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Talent Development: Strategy Examples + Case Studies + Free Talent Development Template

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Talent development is one of the hardest practices to pin down in the world of performance management. There is no exact time for talent development to start and there is no specific end date for it as well.

Talent development begins from the moment an employee enters your onboarding program, all the way until they complete their exit interviews.

The question of what talent development for your organization depends heavily on the relationship you have with your employees, your organizational culture, your day-to-day practices, and a billion other small but important factors.

So in order to provide you with the best possible talent development guide, this article will include the following:

  • Talent development best practices.
  • Examples of talent development strategies.
  • Three real-world cases of how Google, LinkedIn, and Walmart develop their talent.
  • Common talent development mistakes to avoid.
  • A free talent development template for you to download.
  • Talent development tools.
  • And more!

But before we get to all of those, let’s cover our bases and do a bit of housekeeping.

Integrate Development Plans into Microsoft Teams

While we already have a free employee development plan template ready for you to download if you just scroll down, if you’re a Microsoft Teams user, then you won’t really need it! All you need to do is try the best performance management solution for Microsoft Teams to start creating customizable individual development plans and templates without leaving the comfort of your favorite communication platform!

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What is talent development?

Talent development is an organizational strategy that proactively advances employee engagement, learning, and productivity by building on existing strengths rather than trying to fix weaknesses.

Talent development can be used to help someone reach their highest potential and is designed to help employees learn new skills and improve the overall performance of their organizations.  

Talent development strategies help individuals to achieve their goals, while also improving the organization’s performance.

It can be used in a variety of ways: to improve employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational performance; to develop or enhance skills within an employee’s current role; to prepare an individual for a new position or promotion within the organization.  

Why is talent development important?

Now that we’ve answered the “What?” let’s take a brief dive into the “Why?”. While the question itself, when read out loud, may sound a bit redundant, here is why you should be making the development of talent in your organization a priority and invest in a strong talent development program.

Benefits of talent development

1. Stop the revolving door! Boost retention rates!

A huge chunk of the importance of talent development stems from the fact that it increases employee retention rates and helps to create a better workplace culture by encouraging learning.

Employees who feel they are continually growing and improving their skill sets will be more likely to stay with an employer long-term and contribute more effectively during their tenure with the organization.   

After all, a paycheck shouldn’t be the only avenue through which you invest in your employees. Providing them with the right opportunities for growth is one of the best ways to make sure they remain invested in your organization.

2. Build a strong, passionate team around you!

These are your people we are talking about! Them having upgraded skillsets and reinvigorated confidence is only going to benefit your organization.

A study by LinkedIn found that companies with strong learning cultures are 58% more likely to meet their business goals and 17% more likely to be market leaders.

If there is anyone who will benefit from talent development programs more than the talent themselves, it is the organization they are a part of.

3. Upskilling is cheaper than recruiting!

You may or may not want to refer to our article on “Quiet Hiring” on this one! Training an existing employee, someone who knows your organization is by far the cheaper option when it comes to building a team.

A study by Matthew Bidwell from the University of Pennsylvania clearly states that:

External hires cost 18% more than internal hires.

Matthew Bidwell in “Paying More to Get Less: The Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Mobility”

If you think creating an individual development plan may be too much work, trust as when we say that implementing an effective onboarding process for new hires is twice as hard and costly!

What are the core components of a talent development program?

So let’s start building that talent development programme together. While we will get to some talent development strategy examples in a few scrolls, let’s first discuss some of the core components of a talent development process in the workplace.

Having a strong foundation is crucial for the success of a talent development strategy, or any other HR initiative for that matter. So let’s just dive in:

1. Targeted Learning and Development Activities:

The heart of any talent development program is the learning and development activities. These activities can include workshops, courses, seminars, on-the-job training, employee mentorship, coaching, and more. Ensure that these activities align with your defined objectives and cater to the diverse needs of your workforce.

2. Customization and Personalization:

Recognize that not all employees have the same learning needs or preferences. Tailor your development activities to cater to individual and team requirements. Personalization allows employees to engage with content that is most relevant to their roles and career aspirations.

3. Assessment and Feedback Mechanisms:

Implement a system for assessing and providing feedback on employee progress. Regular assessments help in tracking development, identifying areas for improvement, and making necessary adjustments to the program. Feedback is a vital component of growth and motivation.

That being said for organizations working remotely or with high employee counts, feedback and assessment can become a bit of a challenge. We’ve highlighted some of the best feedback software you can find to help you in this regard, in this article: Top Feedback Software.

If your organization uses Microsoft Teams on a regular basis, however, then the best option for you would be:

Teamflect

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Teamflect is the best performance management software for Microsoft Teams. Period. It just so happens to have one of the strongest feedback modules among its competitors.

Teamflect users have access to extensive libraries of feedback templates and performance review templates that they can use without ever having to leave Microsoft Teams.

If you want to, this is where you can view Teamflect’s professional development review template!

Teamflect keeps all your feedback and assessment needs in the flow of work, not needing its users to open up a separate app to conduct performance appraisals or implement 360-degree feedback

Looking to support your feedback with some praise and recognition? Teamflect users can send out customizable recognition badges, create leaderboards, and do so much more to keep their employees engaged and invested!

Use the best 360-degree feedback tool for Microsoft Teams!
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4. Mentorship and Coaching:

Incorporate mentorship and coaching into your talent development program. These initiatives offer employees the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, receive guidance, and gain insights that can accelerate their development. For those looking to implement a mentorship program remotely, we believe this video can prove useful:

5. Technology and Tools:

Leverage technology to enhance learning experiences. Learning management systems, e-learning platforms, and other digital tools can facilitate access to training materials, track progress, and provide interactive learning opportunities.

6. Recognition and Rewards:

Recognize and reward employees for their commitment to learning and development. Acknowledging their achievements, whether through promotions, bonuses, or simple recognition, encourages a culture of continuous self-improvement.

Talent Development Cases to Learn From: Google, LinkedIn, Walmart

If there is one thing we want you to take away from this article, it is that talent development doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, your talent development strategy is where you should be getting as creative as possible.

Below, you will find incredibly intuitive cases of how some of the top organizations in the world are approaching talent development. We hope you will find some inspiration in the way they create talent development strategies!

1. Google’s “20% time” policy

Google's talent development program: %20 percent time.

Google’s “20% time” policy allows employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects of their own choosing. This policy encourages employees to be creative and innovative and to develop new skills and knowledge.

The 80/20 talent development strategy doesn’t just give employees the freedom to be creative. It also displays a great amount of trust in their abilities. It is a great way to make sure your talent development program helps build a strong bond between you and your employees. Oh, and the results:

For example, one Google engineer used their 20% time to develop the Gmail email service. Another Google engineer used their 20% time to develop the Google Maps app.

2. LinkedIn’s “Learning Path” program

LinkedIn's Talent Development Program

LinkedIn’s “Learning Path” program is a personalized learning program that helps employees develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Employees can choose from a variety of learning paths, such as “Leadership Development,” “Software Engineering,” and “Product Management.”

Each learning path includes a variety of learning activities, such as online courses, articles, and videos. Employees can also track their progress and earn badges for completing different activities.

3. Walmart’s “Academy@Walmart” program

Walmart's Talent development progam

Walmart’s “Academy@Walmart” program is a free training program that helps Walmart associates develop the skills they need to advance their careers. The program offers a variety of courses, such as “Customer Service,” “Leadership Development,” and “Retail Skills.”

Walmart associates can take Academy@Walmart courses online, in person, or at their own pace. Associates who complete courses can earn certificates and promotions.

These are just a few examples of talent development strategies that real-world organizations are using. By investing in their employees’ development, organizations can create a more skilled and engaged workforce.

5 Best Talent Development Strategy Examples

We can’t tell you how you should be developing your talent. As we’ve stated earlier, talent development should be personalized. You know your talent better than we do. So the talent development strategy examples you will find below aren’t direct action plans. Instead they are more along the lines general concepts that you can build on further yourself.

1. Leadership Development Programs:

Create programs focused on identifying and nurturing leadership potential within your organization. These programs often involve mentorship, leadership training, and opportunities for emerging leaders to take on more significant responsibilities.

2. On-the-Job Training and Shadowing:

Encourage employees to learn by doing. Implement job rotation, shadowing senior colleagues, or cross-functional projects to provide practical, hands-on experience and skill development.

3. Cross-Functional Training:

Promote collaboration and broaden the skill sets of your workforce by facilitating cross-functional training programs. Having crossfunctional teams, allows employees to learn about different aspects of the business and develop a more comprehensive perspective.

4. Coaching and Mentoring Initiatives:

Establish formal coaching and mentoring programs where experienced employees guide and support their colleagues in achieving their career and personal development goals. One of the best ways to decide the mentor-mentee pairings in your organization is to use a 9-box grid talent analysis.

5. Peer Learning Networks:

Create forums or communities where employees can share their expertise, experiences, and insights with their colleagues. Peer learning networks facilitate knowledge sharing and skill development.

What are some common mistakes people make with talent development?

Now that we’ve gone over some of the best examples of talent development programs, we believe it is about time we discuss what you definitely shouldn’t be doing when you are developing your talent. Here are some of the worst mistakes you can make throughout the talent development process.

1. Neglecting Individualized Plans

One-size-fits-all approaches don’t work in talent development. Avoid the mistake of assuming that all employees have the same development needs and interests. Instead, create individualized development plans based on each employee’s skills, goals, and aspirations.

2. Disregarding Employee Input

Do you know who has the best ideas on talent development and growth? The talent! Employees often have valuable insights into their own development needs. Failing to involve them in the planning and decision-making process can lead to employee disengagement and reduce the effectiveness of your development strategy.

3. Focusing Solely on Training

We’ll just bring in a speaker to do a seminar. Bing bang boom. That’s a wrap.

Sounds familiar?

Talent development is not just about training programs. It should also involve mentorship, coaching, job rotations, and opportunities for experiential learning. Since those are some of the more difficult and labor-intensive aspects of talent development, some leaders just bring someone over for a narrow, classroom-based training session and call it a day.

4. Overlooking Diversity and Inclusion

Failing to consider diversity and inclusion in talent development can limit the effectiveness of your strategies. Ensure that your initiatives are accessible and inclusive to all employees, regardless of their background.

5. Ignoring Ongoing Feedback

Talent development should be a continuous process, and feedback is essential. Don’t wait for annual performance reviews to provide feedback. Regularly communicate with employees about their progress and areas for improvement.

Download a FREE Talent Development Template

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The free talent development template we’ve included in this article is yours to download! It is a nifty little chart for you to keep track of all your employee development ideas and training opportunities. Just click the link below and start mapping out talent development activities right away!

We do have to let you know that activities are only half the battle when it comes to talent development.

Talent development plans and strategies also revolve around setting individual development goals and creating action plans! For all of that and more, we do recommend investing in a performance management solution such as Teamflect, which not only lets you set individual development goals but also allows you to integrate them into Teams meetings, performance appraisals, check-ins, and more!

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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