Building an Effective Talent Development Program

The natural tendency for leaders amidst challenging times, like industry disruptions or economic downturns, is to focus attention away from internal affairs and toward external noise. In reality, the opposite response is best. Continually investing in the talent you already have, and perhaps even amping up that investment, will keep morale high, engagement steady, and company culture healthy. Developing the talent you have in-house leads to attracting the talent you want later when the market circumstances are more ideal.

Regardless of the stage of your business, implementing effective methods for identifying, engaging, and developing your internal talent is crucial. Our team at WorkDove has compiled a list of best practices for all three categories, which we share below.

Identifying Talent 

Accurately identifying potential future leaders requires a solid foundation of well-defined performance metrics and organizational behaviors. Without these crucial elements, leaders may unconsciously or consciously choose future leaders based on personal preferences or experiences, and thus make biased personnel decisions. It’s important to note that the loudest person in the room isn’t always the best candidate for leadership roles, as some individuals may excel in the background. Performance objectives and company core values should be clearly communicated and reiterated frequently, regardless of whether they are specific or generalized.

To ensure that identifying talent is a fair and unbiased process, it’s important to have a standardized leadership succession plan in place. At WorkDove, we use a 9-box grid that evaluates an organization’s talent pool based on performance and potential. While performance can be objectively measured, potential is more subjective and requires the input of multiple managers and leaders. Our drag-and-drop tool allows for on-the-spot decisions based on a variety of perspectives, and the calibration feature helps remove subjectivity and bias, thus ensuring that identifying talent is a collaborative effort based on accurate data.

Engaging Talent

Though not every employee may be destined for a leadership role, their unique talents and contributions are still valuable and worthy of investment. In fact, according to Gallup, business units with high employee engagement showed a 21% increase in profitability. As a manager, it’s important to be intentional and take the initiative to engage with your team on a regular basis. We recommend implementing monthly Check-Ins that are employee-led and include prompts such as “What have you accomplished since our last check-in? What are you proud of?” By keeping these conversations structured but flexible, coaching can happen naturally and employees feel valued and supported by their managers.

Additional recommendations include employee sentiment analysis, self-assessments, and dynamic goal-setting. The WorkDove Check-In app incorporates a Pulse tab that asks responders, “How are you feeling lately?” with corresponding smiley faces, quickly gauging overall sentiment. During performance review time, we highly recommend incorporating a self-assessment portion where the employee rates themselves for all performance metrics and core values with comments for each. This not only gives a voice to employees in the process but provides insight to managers on potential coaching/development needs or crucial conversations that need to occur. 

Our cascading Goals app in the WorkDove platform encourages ownership and greater transparency by allowing employees to participate in their own goal-setting with the oversight of their direct leader(s). When creating individual goals, they can align the goals to up-the-chain departments and organization-wide goals, making it crystal clear how an employee’s individual efforts impact the company’s outcomes. Fully engaging the talent within your “walls” means there are multiple points of interaction throughout the year, not just during performance review time. 

Developing Talent

More research by Gallup states that 2 out of 3 employees plan to quit within a year’s time, and 66% said this is due to a lack of career advancement. For these respondents, Gen Z and Millennial employees were the most likely populations to leave their jobs due to lack of development and skill-building, with a striking 74% ready to quit for these reasons. It comes as no surprise that turnover is expensive. The cost of replacing a singular employee can range from ½ to 2 times that employee’s annual salary.

To combat this, WorkDove’s customers go on the offense to develop in-house talent. As noted above, we recommend that regular touch points occur throughout the year. The review process is designed for development rather than assessment, as it will be far more effective. Crucial conversations about performance issues should not be saved for the review conversation. Instead, managers should regularly check in with direct reports to address problems as soon as they arise before they become larger issues. This approach leaves room for skills development during the actual review, where the employee can expect a candid conversation about ways to further develop both personally and professionally, without any surprises about their manager’s assessment of their performance and behavior.

Even greater intentionality occurs through the creation of an Individual Development Plan. WorkDove’s IDP+ includes targeted plans that highlight success measures, identify potential training needs, and allow for managers to document specific observations for further coaching. A Talent Review Card gives managers a visual snapshot of their employee’s strengths, development opportunities, risks, and greatest value add. A well-crafted IDP gives both parties everything they need to move toward a common goal together that heavily empowers the employee in their own growth.

By seamlessly integrating processes that align with your daily workflows, and utilizing performance and talent management apps that best suit your organization, you can successfully identify, engage, and develop your internal talent pool. This not only instills confidence in your employees but also establishes a reputation that your brand truly embodies its values, ultimately drawing in new talent. Don’t let external challenges hinder your investment in talent; it’s what sets you apart from the competition!

Ready to identify, engage, and develop your in-house talent? Get started today!