How to Nurture Your Top Talent so You Don’t Lose It

a drawing of a potted plant with the caption: Cultivate Your Talent

The best leaders work hard to hire and develop the top talent required to succeed now and in the future. Once your carefully selected workers are on board and prepared, however, you cannot afford to neglect them. To retain high performers, you need to engage them, challenge them, continue to develop them, provide them with an attractive career path, and show that you value and appreciate their contributions.

With all the investment in learning and development these days, we are surprised when we hear from workers, even at large companies that claim robust training departments, that they are frustrated at the lack of relevant learning opportunities. The operative word here is “relevant.” We might also add “timely.” Relevant, timely and reinforced learning is what matters in a serious learning organization.

With organizations being ever more challenged to find workers with the competencies needed to succeed, it is critical that companies find ways to nurture and grow the talent pools they already have. There are traditional ways of supporting the growth and learning of your talent and there are ways that rely more on technology. Here are four modalities to consider:

1. Leader-led, classroom format
This delivery format is still regularly used in corporate settings. Live workshops are very effective when fully customized to the relevant needs of the participants, their bosses and the goals of the business. Our research finds that this high degree of relevance, when reinforced with skilled coaching, integrated support processes, timely application and training measurement, creates a 4-to-1 improvement when compared to stand-alone training events. Additional benefits are obtained when you seek a shared understanding and common learning among a target employee population.

2. Informal learning format
Informally, employees can learn effectively by observing experts in the skills they need to adopt, by receiving coaching from managers who know how to encourage and shape behavior, and from actual on-the-job experience. On its own, or in conjunction with leader-led training, on-the job application and feedback should be a critical component to any learning and development curriculum.

3. E-learning
Learners go online at their convenience to access information, learn targeted skills and then test out of each level as they prove proficiency. This is typically a far less expensive way to learn and can easily be delivered across geographies. It is useful for simple concepts; less effective for more complex skills.

4. Social media
Companies that take advantage of what is called “social learning” often develop their own internal platforms. Here, employees can share best practices, case studies, pose questions, receive coaching, and share meeting results and new product information. Many companies take advantage of existing social media platforms to connect employees.

Before selecting the most effective medium for learning, identify the specific business metrics that you are trying to move. Typical sales training metrics include revenue, margin, and win-rate. Typical management training metrics include employee engagement, employee retention, employee performance and employee relations. Once you know the success metrics that matter most to the business, assess what skills and knowledge are needed to achieve those success metrics. When you identify the gaps between what is needed and what your talent currently knows, you have your high-level curriculum. Depending upon which skills are needed and by whom, you can figure out a delivery system. Most often it is a combination of all of the above.

Companies that recognize their talent as a significant competitive advantage know they must continually nurture and grow their work force and align learning opportunities to business needs.

Benchmark your training initiative to see where you stand.

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Human Resources Business Partner

Intuit

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

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Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

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HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

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Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources

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Director, HR & Compliance

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HR Director

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Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

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