Development of Talent in the Organization


Development of Talent in the Organization

Building of the bench strength for the future is something which no organization can afford to ignore. With the competition steadily increasing and the present trends indicating that the talent pool is going to decrease, no organization can afford to ignore the identification and development of the talent of their employees. Given the ease with which business models can be copied, it is only the people of the organization along with their ability to learn and lead are the only sustainable source of competitive advantage for the organization.

Talent development focuses on the planning, selection and implementation of development strategies for the organizational employees to ensure that the organization has both the current and future supply of talented employees to meet its strategic objectives and that development activities are aligned with organizational talent management processes.

The organization which desires to sustain its success must have the best talented employees in order to succeed in the hypercompetitive and increasingly complex present day economy. Along with the understanding of the need to hire, develop, and retain talented people, the organization is to be aware that it must manage talent as a critical resource to achieve the best possible results. For managing talent The organization is to develop the capabilities of employees, nurture their careers, and manage the performance of individuals and teams.

Organizational restructuring, globalization and competition highlight the need for both the organization and individual employees to be focused on investment in learning. Organizational talent development process almost invariably focuses on organizational needs and is an investment for meeting these needs. Organizational driven talent development focuses on a multiplicity of organizational needs such as succession planning, the achievement of business strategy, and the enhancement of leadership bench strength and the development of brilliant employees.

During the difficult times, it is important for the organization to focus on developing the capabilities and skills of the employees so that it can stand the organization in good stead when the upturn happens. The organization also must focus on the development of employees that occupy pivotal roles to meet current and future development challenges. Investment in talent development has the potential to capitalize on business opportunities and facilitate expansion.  This investment in talent development is a potential source of competitive advantage since it results in valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutional human resources.

It essentially comes down to a requirement that the organization develops the ?right talents in the right people, at the right time, in the right way, to ensure its talent pipeline has an abundant supply of management talents?.

Talent development represents an important component of the overall talent management process. It is well established that significant advantages are achieved from an internal development approach and that the organization has a necessity to acquire and develop the industry specific as well as the organizational specific knowledge and skills in order to be competitive. Hence, the organization is required to make significant investments in talent development activities, so that talented employees possess the competencies to successfully implement the business strategy of the organization. Talent development activities are typically undertaken by the organization to ensure that there are zero talent outages, to ensure planned succession rather than replacement, and to enhance the organization?s reputation as a talent magnet.

For understanding the scope of talent development, there are questions which need to be asked are (i) what is talent for the purposes of development, (ii) does talent development focus on technical or generic competencies or both, (iii) what are the learning needs that are the primary focus of talent development, organizational or individual or some combination (iv) does talent development occur in an accelerated or normal way, and (v) what are the pathways, programmes and processes that contribute the architecture of talent development. Answers to these questions help to bring some coherence to the scope of the concept.

Talent is conceptualized as a code for the most effective leaders and managers at all levels, who can help the organization fulfill its aspirations and drive its performance. Managerial talent is some combination of a sharp strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, and communications skills. It is the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, fundamental skills, and the ability to deliver results.

High potential talent is an invaluable resource, and smart organizations find ways to recognize that talent early. However, it is usually tough to predict talent in young leaders.

Good talent development requires that the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for leadership success be clearly defined.

Talent development is to focus on the development of technical or generic competencies or both. The overriding factors leading to effective performance include technical credibility and the ability to use systems and processes for meeting of the performance standards. Managers in the initial stages of their careers often place more focus on technical competencies while giving generic competencies less credence. As a consequence, they frequently fall short on the performance expectations required of the role. Traditional talent development processes such as training are extremely effective at imparting technical competencies. They can in many cases be developed in isolation from the workplace.

However, it is increasingly emphasized that high potential talent must be proficient in working in diverse work environments, and are inextricably linked to features or characteristic of the environment. As a consequence, there is an increased focus on generic competencies. The shift to generic competencies is something that has occurred in the past 20-25 years. Generic competencies emphasize a range of qualities and capabilities which are important in the workplace. These include skills such as problem solving and analytical skills, communication skills, teamwork competencies and skills to identify access and manage knowledge. Generic competencies also include personal attributes such as imagination, creativity and intellectual rigour and personal values such as persistence, integrity and tolerance.

Generic competencies are considered to be important for potential and career advancement. However, it is clear that such generic competencies are also highly environmental in nature. Environment normally consists of task, social and physical dimensions. Task dimensions emphasize informational and structural features of the role, ambiguity, uncertainty levels of accountability and autonomy. Social dimensions focus on aspects of the role that are interpersonal in nature such as interpersonal conflict, the degree of interdependence and density of human interaction. Physical dimensions focus on issues such as the working conditions like degree of risk, hazard, noise etc., which influences work performance and behaviour.

Unlike technical competence, generic competencies provide more significant development challenges. They tend to be holistic, to overlap, and interweave, and they are intrinsically related to the kind of person that one is. They are clearly related to issues such as self-confidence and self-esteem of the learner. It is therefore clear that the new workplace places emphasis on skills that go beyond the technical and include a full spectrum of soft skills. Talented employees are expected to display these generic competencies in combinations that meet the demands of a unique and continually changing work environment. It suggests that on-going talent development processes need to be flexible, adaptable, and capable of scalability and in tune with the evolving environment. As a consequence, talent development must increasingly be work-based in order to develop capabilities to cope with the temporality or dynamism of work environment.

Management which believes in an integrated talent management approach usually speeds up the development of talent in order to respond to current and anticipated business pressures. Whereas management which believes in a traditional approach, focus on blending classroom development, e-learning and on-the-job development to enhance the competencies of talent to perform effectively and enhance the potential of the employees. In case of the blended approach there are four components of formal development namely individual skill development, socializing development interventions, action and strategic learning initiatives. However, traditional talent development approaches are frequently passive rather than active, they tend to be slow, they emphasize natural experiential learning, and the blend of development strategies needs to be carefully managed to engage the employee in a genuine experiential development process.

Accelerated talent development methods focus on ensuring that the employee is competent to perform, and there is a strong emphasis on accelerating the learning curve. Such methods are based on a highly motivated employee, ongoing intensive training, extensive use of simulation tools, structured projects and experiences to drive learning and self-managed development processes. Critical objectives that drive accelerated development include the enhancement of knowledge and skills. It develops the employees sufficiently to assume higher or broader roles.

It is necessary to understand the processes which support the talent development. Consistent with the dynamic capabilities viewpoint, it is important to consider how those responsible for managing talent development manage the architecture. In particular, it focuses on issues of stakeholder engagement, communication activities and decisions concerning the target groups for talent development activities and the extent of standardization of talent development processes and systems across the organization.

Some organizations make use of systematic, formal talent review processes to focus on assessing future development potential. These processes usually focus on the identification of high potentials and their unique development needs. These processes are complex and they aim is to strategically align the potential employees with critical organizational capabilities. However, such processes may lead to too much of a focus on the current rather than the future.  Management may characterize particular high potential employees in excessively positive terms. There may be a bias in the selection of the high potential employees and lack of fairness concerning strengths and development needs of other employees.

Talent developmental path includes ?experiences, exposures and challenges? which the employee must work through in order to emerge as the talent of the future. These paths are normally designed for different categories of employees.

Experiences are however highlighted as central to the design of talent development. They can lead to significant career advancement and confer strategic advantage. There are four key strengths of experiences in the context of talent development namely (i) the development of an enhanced understanding of complex business issues and a broader perspective, (ii) enhanced organizational and cultural awareness,  (iii) enhanced respect for differences and a greater sense of curiosity, and (iv) the opportunity to build relationships and enhance networking skills.

Exposures are also highlighted as an important dimension of talent development. Exposures mean opportunities to work in different contexts and situations. These may be achieved through job rotation, transfers to different departments, project and international assignments. Exposures provide employees with opportunities to experience different organizational, cultural, cross-cultural and work practice situations. They help to develop technical expertise, judgment and decision making, drive for results, strategic thinking and business acumen.

Challenges or hardships are an important component of the talent development process. These may include challenges such as organizational turnaround, a start-up, downsizing or closure of a unit. Challenges allow employees to address blind spots, learn from mistakes and failures, deal with stressful situations and recognize personal limitations.

Effective HR (human resource) systems in the organization support identification, assessment and development of talent. It includes human resource planning, effective selection of employees, performance management, career management processes and succession planning. There is a need for a contingency approach to the design of HR systems to support talent development. These systems are to be based on organizational strategy imperatives and objectives. They also highlight the importance of cultural fit and the involvement of stakeholders in the full spectrum of talent management processes.

There are normally four levels of talent integration. They point out that in the initial stages the HR systems consist of separate programmes and a strong emphasis on tools. At second level there is evidence of a more systematic approach emphasizing integrated and aligned processes and programmes. At third level, the organizational strategy drives HR system integration and alignment and at fourth level, there exists a talent management mindset within the organization.

The process of talent development is a three way process consisting of the individual employees, the management, and the organization. The organization provides resources, tools, values and culture. Management plays a role in assessing needs, clarify and discuss goals, support development, provide feedback and monitor development. The individual employees set career goals, seek development opportunities and implement development action plans.

Programmes to enable talent development fall into four categories (Fig 1) namely (i) formal programmes, (ii) relationship based developmental experiences. (iii) job-based developmental experiences, and (iv) informal/non-formal developmental activities.

categories of talent development programmes

Fig 1 Categories of talent development programmes

A popular framework for talent development suggests a 70:20:10 strategies whereby 70 % of talent development takes place through work activities, 20 % through relationships, and 10 % through formal development activities. However, this framework is rarely implemented in a systematic way. Further, this framework does not offer much in terms of detailed guidance. In the opinion of some management experts this framework overstates the role of experience in talent development and it underestimates the value of learning from others. They are of the opinion that in reality the reverse is the case with the majority of talent development activities are concentrated in the 10 % category.

Formal talent development programmes cover a broad spectrum of strategies including conceptual and skill-based programmes, personal growth programmes, feedback-based interventions, and action focused interventions. The majority of formal programmes are designed to enhance generic skills and behaviours. These types of programmes are typically targeted towards middle and senior managers and employees with technical/professional backgrounds. Action learning interventions are usually directed at management talent groups and are designed to enhance generic competencies such as teamwork, problem solving and strategic awareness.

Relationship-based talent development interventions are increasingly considered central to the talent development process. The relationships considered most significant include peers, senior management positions, customers and suppliers. They are considered important to the talent development since they help the employees to see new perspectives and understand bigger picture issues. Developmental relationships are conceptualized as relationships where an individual takes an active interest and action to advance the career of another individual. These interventions provide a variety of developmental functions such as sponsorship, coaching, mentoring, psycho-social support and career advice. These interventions are increasingly being used to develop high potential talent. The developmental relationship strategies present a number of significant challenges for the organization such as finding the appropriate number of individuals who can perform roles as coaches and mentors etc.

The role of optimism is important in explaining both the structure and quality of an employee?s developmental network. The processes in developmental relationships involve a repetitive interplay between specific designer-led learning activities, learner-led activities interaction with others and learner action and awareness processing. They represent an important and effective talent development strategy because development takes place in context and learning is embedded in the learners? work.

The job represents a primary source of development. It provides five significant developmental opportunities namely bosses and superiors, turnaround situations, increases in job scope, horizontal job moves, and new initiatives such as doing a stretch task, implementing change and developing new practice. These job-based experiences need to meet a number of design requirements to be effective. Job tasks need to have high instability and the potential to be successful, they are to involve some form of cross-functional influence, take learners outside of their comfort zones, have a major strategic component, and involve dealing with different bosses. Job experiences are frequently taken for granted as talent development strategies. They are often viewed as opportunities to get work done and the mindset of key managers may be anti-development. They require significant levels of self-confidence on the part of the learner and the climate and culture of the organization may not be conducive to the recognition of job activities as development opportunities.

The informal and non-formal talent development opportunities are important. The majority of the talent development strategies are usually formal development strategies. However, it is important to challenge conventional thinking. The contingent nature of work in an organization suggests that talent development strategies must also focus on the informal and non-formal development. There are a number of important distinctions between informal, incidental and implied development. Informal development is unplanned, ad-hoc with no specified outcomes. It is predominantly practical. Incidental development is unintentional, a byproduct of another activity. It is a sub-category of informal learning. Implicit development consists of learning and takes place independent of conscious attempts to learn. It is broadly equivalent to incidental learning. It is the development which occurs without awareness or explicit knowledge.

Development of strategic or pivotal talent is a key concern of talent development. Talent development strategies can be considered a key dimension of a bundle of high performance work practices that are associated with superior organizational performance. The key issues are the way talent development processes are implemented and how they are communicated in the organization. It is not just their presence that is of significance. There is a clear requirement for talent development processes to be integrated with the organizational strategies.

The notion of a one-size fits all approach in terms of talent development is considered to be ineffective. There is an increased emphasis on customizing talent development strategies to meet the needs of individual employees. These talent development strategies need to take account of individual employee’s needs, learning styles and current work priorities. Talent development processes therefore need to be less prescriptive and far more about the needs of individual employee. Such a strategy represents a major investment for the organization. It places a significant reliance on effective talent assessment processes and the utilization of the information generated to select best-fit talent development strategies.

The onus is increasingly shifting to the individual to plan and implement development activities. The locus of decision-making has shifted towards the individual learner making informed choices concerning development. Self-directed talent development activities highlight the need for learner insight and self-awareness, self-confidence and persistence. It also raises questions concerning the developmental stability of individuals. There are significant challenges for organizations to develop technologies to support self-directed development. There are also challenges involved in linking self-development activities to organizational goals.

Continuous, just-in-time, blended talent development processes have become popular these days. These processes are flexible and they take the talent development move away from the classroom. These processes provide instant access to talent development. This imperative has resulted in an increasing emphasis on the use of online resources and signposting to learners the most appropriate learning strategy given the amount of time they have available to learn. Blended learning that combines the formal with the informal represents a key challenge for the organization. Technology is increasingly used as a means to provide this access.