EditorialsLeadership

Talent Development is the Path to Success

Our effectiveness as leaders hinges on the people we are willing to develop. One of the keys to the success of any organization is how its managers select and mentor top talent. When you surround yourself with a high-quality, well-trained team you significantly increase your odds of winning at work.

And when you commit to prioritizing talent development you can bet that senior leaders will take note of your efforts. As you assess your career, be sure to move procuring a circle of good people to the top of your important goals. I guarantee that a track record of talent development will make a big difference in your long-term success. Take it step-by-step:

  1. Perform a serious, written assessment of your team and, where helpful, enlist your human resources department for support.
  2. Pinpoint your “high-potential” people and map a development plan for each. And don’t overlook those who may appear a little shy — sometimes real talent is just below the surface.
  3. Provide opportunities for your most promising people to attend the right classes, explore educational experiences, tackle the toughest challenges and learn from an executive mentor.
  4. Then follow your key people carefully to help them achieve maximum success, because ultimately their long-term success contributes to yours.

Finding, securing and building top talent

No matter where you are always be scouting for talent that could benefit your organization. When you meet new people, engage and ask questions. Be on the lookout at industry events, within your company, even at community or social events. Who knows where an exceptional person could enter your life?

In the process you might also run across candidates who would be good fits for other functions in your organization. Even if you don’t have a current opening, make a note of good prospects, because you never know when the need may arise.

Once you have identified a candidate who matches an open position, initiate a conversation, explain your organization and then schedule an interview. Conducting an effective interview is no easy task and is a skill that even the best leaders are forever refining. Take your time, plan your questions carefully and give your candidate plenty of time to respond — sometimes “ramblings” can tell you more than you get from the questions alone.

If things look promising schedule a second interview and ask another key person to join you. Another opinion can provide important perspective. If you want to build your interviewing skills further, I suggest the book “Who” by Geoff Smart.

When you hire a new person, go out of your way to plan the first few days and weeks for maximum success. Start with an orientation of the organization, along with assigning a “buddy” for the first few weeks. The goal is to get your new hire comfortable and productive as quickly as you can.

Knowing how to develop talent will set you apart from your peers and will garner respect in your organization. When senior leaders assess their executives and managers, measures always relate to people — morale in the unit, personnel turnover and the development of future talent. When you are seen as a builder of your company’s next generation, you are positioning yourself for the next step up the ladder.

Want to get ahead? Be a talent developer!

published in the Nashville Business Journal

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