Increasing complexity, skills shortages, and constant pressure on costs are just three reasons for prioritising organization-wide talent development – that is, learning and development that upskills people, increases their engagement with organizational success, and prepares them for the challenges on the horizon.


An organization-wide programme fosters diversity and inclusion. It also offers a consistent, cohesive approach to help people adapt to change.


Here are my top tips:

1.     Set a broad definition of talent

Gone are the days when ‘talent’ referred to the ‘top 10%. Make sure all your people realise they are included, and that there is something in it for them, whatever their needs and expectations.

2.     Create a shared understanding of success

We achieve this with our clients through a behavioural effectiveness model that maps to business strategies, sets out career paths, and links to a self-report questionnaire that helps people set personal development goals. These might be immediate goals, or longer-term career aspirations. Link the model to a multitude of L & D solutions to help people get there.

3.     More personalised programmes

There is a bewildering array of solutions in the market. L and D professionals must curate learning that suits individuals’ different styles and needs. Less standardisation and more customisation, not just to the firm, but to the individual too accelerates learning.

4.     Keep with it

Once you identify your solution, implement it as quickly as possible. Don’t allow any changes in sight to delay you. Similarly, don’t get put off by objections and push-back. Implement quickly, build in feedback-loops, then adapt as necessary. This way you are continuously improving, rather than going back to the drawing board.

5.     Avoid fanfares

Introduce an initiative by making sure it is widely available, and visible so people stumble across it regularly, and let it go viral. You still have an active PR role in getting the momentum going; do this by creating conversations, capturing comments, nudging people in the right direction, and identifying your initial champions

6.     Lessen management involvement

CEOs, CHROs and senior managers are way over-stretched. They might recognise that talent development is important to business success, but it is the invisible asset that rarely makes it onto their urgent list. Don’t, therefore, be reliant on their active involvement. Career conversations, coaching and learning support don’t have to be carried out by managers. Assign these roles to others who will recognise that they are fabulously developmental responsibilities. Having said that, “what the boss pays attention to is what gets done.” Give regular information to your CEO, and other senior managers and, if necessary, script them to express their support, and give recognition to those who complete the programme, or undertake these responsibilities.

7.     Use external resources to bear the brunt of the workload

Commonly, consultants are brought in to kick-start, or do the initial design work, but then the internal team goes it alone. It is hard to implement something designed by others, plus it often results in an impossible workload. Keep your external resource on through implementation. Organise this so they pass on skills and expertise, as well as being an extra pair of hands.


An integrated programme is a shortcut to becoming a true learning organization, which according to CIPD[1] makes you three or four times more likely to achieve growth, and transformation, as well as productivity and profitability increases.


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Janice Caplan


©Copyright Janice Caplan 2018

[1] In Focus Report May 2017 driving-the-new-learning-organisation_2017-how-to-unlock-the-potential-of-Land-d_tcm18-21557.pdf