Leaders are responsible not just for managing and leading talent, but also for helping individuals develop and grow so that they can perform to their potential. Though most leaders would agree that developing talent is important, training alone is not enough. Leadership requires not only setting expectations and providing feedback, but also positioning employees for success and providing an environment that encourages continuous learning and performance improvement. Here are four things leaders can do to develop organizational talent that reaches their full potential:
Leaders can make considerable progress in developing talent by delegating tasks that challenge these individuals to try something new. Delegation doesn’t mean just handing off a task to someone, but going through a process of discussion, explanation, and coaching to help the person learn and perform at a higher level. Leaders can identify which responsibilities to delegate (and whom to delegate them to) by communicating expectations, providing regular feedback, and then trusting individuals so that they can take accountability for the outcome of the delegated task. As individuals take on more newly delegated responsibilities, they will grow more confident in their ability to perform at a consistently higher level.
Coach and Mentor
Coaching isn’t limited to a one-on-one relationship established only for that purpose. In fact, leaders have opportunities to coach their people on a daily basis, and can often provide useful in-the-moment coaching that helps to accelerate employee development. Coaching is more than giving advice and suggestions for improvement. It requires first making a connection and showing employees that you care about their development and aspirations for growth, and then providing opportunities for them to learn and grow. Managers can coach and mentor by regularly asking employees about their career aspirations, discussing options for training, and identifying assignments and other opportunities to learn. Once leaders have established a connection with individuals, they can more effectively provide coaching that includes observing employee behavior and communicating helpful strategies for skill building and development.
Set an Example
The behavior of leaders can have a major influence on employee behavior. One survey found that 42 percent of new managers developed their management style by observing a previous manager. Leaders can find success in developing talent by focusing on continuous improvement and showing others through their own example the importance of developing leadership strengths. Leaders who demonstrate a desire to become better through leadership development and building their skills in other areas show through their example the value of expanding and growing as a professional. When employees see leaders sharpening their own skills, they are more likely to follow that behavior and seek out development opportunities for themselves.
Identify Targeted Training
Training that targets a specific area, such as communication, teamwork, or leadership development, can give employees the necessary building blocks to consistently perform at a higher level. However, training delivered in a vacuum won’t produce much in the way of results. Training activities should mimic the real world in order to offer maximum value to employees and teams. Experiential learning is an ideal choice for developing talent because it allows employees to learn by doing and includes exercises that parallel real challenges employees face at work. When employees can see a strong connection between what they learn and practice in training and what they experience at work, they’re more likely to use newly learned skills on the job.
Talent development is a necessary component of ensuring your workforce possesses the skills and knowledge required for future growth. Helping employees learn and grow requires a combination of targeted training and support from leaders to help employees achieve their aspirations and perform to their potential.