The Answer to Boosting Talent Is Probably Not Training

The Answer to Boosting Talent Is Probably Not Training
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How to Boost Talent and Performance
Let’s say you have been charged with boosting talent and performance at your organization. Now let’s also say that there is a hiring freeze so you have to lift the capabilities of your current talent pool. Most assume (to the collective tune of over $100 billion spent on corporate training per year) that the best course of action is to conduct more training programs.

But We Are Here to Tell You that Training by Itself Is NOT the Answer
Yes, we are a consulting and training company. And yes, we believe deeply in the power of improving skills, changing behaviors and increasing performance. So why do we believe that training alone is not the answer to increase performance?

A 25% ROI is Not High Enough
Because we have completed over 800 training measurement projects and learned that only 1-in-5 people change their behavior from training alone.  In general, for training to work, it must have high relevance, clear success metrics, identified skills and behaviors, targeted goals, effective training measurement, consistent performance monitoring and frequent coaching..

Otherwise, corporate training is just an exercise in “checking the box” and spending hard-earned money and limited time with no real business impact or performance return. Ideally, training, just like any other business investment, should be conducted only when it can deliver meaningful business results that matter.

Talent Accounts for 29% of the Difference
Our organizational alignment research found that talent (how you attract develop, engage and retain people) accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing organizations. Investing in developing a workforce that can create a unique advantage for your company is certainly smart. But you need to do it right.

5 Steps to Better Assess and Grow Talent
Assess and grow your talent by following these proven steps:

1.  Start with Strategic Business Clarity
Evaluate your strategic business priorities and be clear about the specific business metrics you want to move. Otherwise you are operating in the dark with no business priorities to tie to your talent management or training strategies.  If your business strategy is unclear, make some key assumptions and move forward as best you can.

2.  Create a Talent Management Strategy that is Aligned with the Business Strategy
Once your business strategy is as clear as you can make it, focus on creating an aligned talent management strategy – how you attract, develop, engage and retain talent that fits your unique situation. Take a close look at and prioritize the most important current and future strategic jobs, skills, and people.  Then make sure your plans fit your unique organizational culture and how work truly gets done.

3.  Focus on Talent Contribution
An effective talent management strategy focuses on how your unique approach to talent will accelerate your strategic plan in a way that thrives within your workplace norms. Gain agreement from all stakeholders on how your current and future employees will best contribute to your company’s competitive advantage. Then create a believable and implementable plan with those responsible for implementing it to make it happen.

4.  Be Strategic About Talent Development
Plan an overall talent development approach that includes a training needs assessment of current talent, a development program to support critical skill gaps, and the building of leadership and management skills that can sustain high performance through reinforcement and coaching. You need both a short- and long-term plan that integrates people practices with business priorities.

5.  Differentiate Your Top Talent
Top companies know that different people contribute differently to organizational success and wisely treat top people differently. Make sure that you disproportionately invest in your high value and high potential employees. High potential and high performing employees are the ones who can sustain your competitive advantage.

  • Ensure they feel valued for their contributions.
  • Make them feel special.
  • Keep them challenged, engaged and retained.

The Bottom Line
Boosting talent matters to your people and your business.  Don’t be the organization that continues to waste training dollars each year on learning and development programs that fail to produce tangible behavior change or business results.

To learn more about strategies for boosting talent, Read the Top 5 Training Function Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

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