Monday, May 11, 2015

How to leverage Talent Development Plans in Building the Capabilities for future?

To make a Talent Development Plan, the first need would be to identify the Gaps.

Talent Development Plans are often used in a variety of ways, depending on individual and organizational needs. Some companies treat them as something that happens annually (annual event), others use them as the need arises and yet others do a combination. Some use them only for growth and use action plans for improving work that is below minimum standards. And there is every flavor in between for that as well. But more specifically, how can managers leverage Talent Development Plans to build skills and capabilities to compete for the future?

The actions can be anything that aligns with the S.M.A.R.T. goal that addresses the development need. Not trying to be generic, but it does depend on the need, abilities, and resources available to those involved. There are “standards,” such as training, but it really depends. Managers can serve the role of providing clear communication, support for growth, they can observe, measure, coach, or advise, etc. Employees own their development and execution of the agreed upon plan. In many cases, it is helpful to ask the employees for suggestions to incorporate into the plan, they often have valid ideas.

To make a Talent Development Plan, the first need would be to identify the Gaps: Where exactly the individual is lacking? What are the skills or attributes that need to be developed? Does individual's capability well align with business's strategic need, beyond transactional activities, and how to mind the gaps of collective business capabilities? It's critical that the employee has some "skin in the game," as it relates to their individual development plan. They need to take ownership of the gap that exists and then own the actions to close that gap. Assessments are a powerful way to help them identify a gap that may exist - often more powerful than the performance appraisal process because they had a hand in discovering it. It is also essential to have a competency framework to get relevant data, and a system to achieve objectivity in assessment against each of the competency. Once the gaps are found, then the plan can be prepared based on discussions by identifying:
-Areas where individual can make his/her own efforts
-Areas where individual will need help from organization
-Areas where improvement will happen on its own as one does one's job, with experience
-Areas where effort can be postponed.

Expectations should be clear; goals must be objectively measured. Is the company vision already clear? Is the organization structure clear? Are the current objectives for the individual set in line with the company vision and objectives? Is there a long-term strategic plan for the business. All this is necessary to identify the need for talent development. There is a balance here. Many of people want to be developed, but in smaller or medium companies they can only afford so much development and training. Training and Development plans for the individual, therefore, need to be strictly in line with what the business or organization needs for the future. Because it is based on need, it has a greater chance of a successful outcome. Employee development plan should be done with employees and not against them. It should also be clear how the company will invest in developing their human capital since the organization will benefit significantly. Unless the behavioral context is set in a manner that shifts employee’s mindset from "evaluation" to "opportunity," all the high-level strategies in the world will not produce the "concrete results" you seek; by "concrete," it means sustainable and relevant skills that benefit the employees as well as the company they work for. The notion of “benefit to the employee,” is the essential starting point to engage employees in the greater "WHY" and the underlying motivation for engaging in an assessment process from the beginning.

Talent Development Plan needs to be a positive part of the company's culture. It's not just about correcting poor performance, but building vital leadership skills and digital capabilities for the current and next generation of talented leaders. There is a huge difference between a “performance evaluation” and a “developmental opportunity.” The trouble begins when talent managers confuse these two contexts, or worse yet, hide intentions of “evaluation” within the context of “development.” if the purpose of the performance management system is to allocate incentives, then it is hard to get a good development conversation, if the purpose is development, then don't try and score or rank to justify allocation of budget. When employees feel they are being "assessed," the immediate reaction is defense and protection, which results in skewed responses. This is why so many performance evaluations, while scientifically weighted and honed in terms of measurable behaviors, statistically don’t improve long-term worker performance; or you’ll lose the trust of your workforce and diminish the power of your benchmarking process as well as employee buy-in and self-accountability.

Achieve concrete outcomes: Clearly communicate expectations (including actions). Confirm availability of resources, understanding, and agreement. Execute. Observe. Measure. Follow-up. Follow up is worth mentioning twice. So the starting point could simply be to ask what the individual needs to gain greater comfort in the current role, to achieve the new objectives for the year, and perhaps to prepare for changes foreseeable in the next 12 to 18 months? If manager and team member can have a conversation around these points, in addition to the discussion of what the business needs, that is already a significant achievement. If this happens at several levels of a given department, the impact is major.

People are the most invaluable asset in any business. They are not just cost or even resource, but the human capital worth investing in a smart way. From gap identification to goal setting and measurement, talent development plan needs to be well integrated into people management and culture management in order to shape more growth minds, build the culture of learning, and cultivate collective business capabilities to compete for the future.


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