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Jul 15, 2014

Companies today face several unprecedented challenges.

  • An increasingly competitive hiring landscape, combined with growing talent shortages and skills gaps, makes finding the right people harder than ever.
  • Looming retirements among Baby Boomers means companies will soon lose their most senior employees, along with their skills and knowledge.
  • And, with rampant employee disengagement, companies often struggle to retain their best and most promising workers.

As these issues converge, talent management has become increasingly difficult. So, what can employers do to counteract these factors?

To address the slew of challenges facing talent management professionals, companies should seek to actively enhance their training and development processes to ensure they meet current and future needs. Although companies continue to increase their spending on corporate training, it is important to make sure that those training dollars are invested wisely.

The typical, one-size-fits-all approach to training and development is no longer effective in either engaging employees or providing them with the skills they need to be successful. Therefore, companies must embrace new methods to deliver the targeted training necessary to create the next generation of leaders.

Needed: A new approach to learning

Learning should be tailored to the specific strengths and developmental needs of each individual. Instead of viewing training through the lens of providing employees with the skills they need for their current roles, it should be seen as a way to develop the workforce to meet the challenges of the future. And the best way to do this is to make the connection between performance management and leadership development.

As performance management is concerned with ensuring a high-performing culture by aligning and managing talent with business goals, the link to training is a natural one. Still, many employers are unsure how to make the connection.

The first step is to leverage technology to better understand the multitude of performance data employees produce each day. But more than just collecting performance management data, the right solution can help managers to interpret and understand that data and how it can be used to create alignment between employee performance and business objectives.

For instance, with greater insight into performance across the workforce, managers can better understand the potential of each individual in context and identify high-performing and high-potential employees. As a result, managers can deliver a more personalized learning strategy to help individuals achieve their own professional ambitions and contribute more effectively to company goals.

Greater insight means enhanced performance

Another benefit to combining performance management with training is that it enables the company to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of employee skills and competencies, as well as the training programs they have completed.

Moreover, the company can facilitate conversations with employees about their talent mobility interests and potential career paths and identify the individuals who may be best suited for leadership positions. This way, the company can ensure individuals receive the appropriate support to take on advanced positions in the company.

Not only does this help to improve engagement and therefore retention, but with a commitment to developing internal staff, the company can avoid the challenges of trying to find external candidates with the necessary skills and company knowledge to be successful.

When performance management is combined with leadership development, it also enables employees to take development into their own hands.

Tailored learning strategies

This is a crucial benefit for keeping current talent engaged, especially those millennial employees; unlike previous generations, the newest entrants to the workforce constantly look for ways to improve their workplace performance, and if they do not receive those opportunities, they will seek them with another employer.

To avoid those situations, employees should be active participants in developing their personally tailored learning strategies.

These should include a mix of different types of learning, such as classroom training, virtual learning sessions, collaborative and individual learning initiatives and mentorship programs where they can learn from more experienced colleagues.

Moreover, all content should be accessible on mobile devices, so employees can view materials on their devices where and when it is most convenient. As a result, employees will be able to learn at their own pace, with the methods they find most effective.

Growing tomorrow’s leaders

Employers continue to face a bevy of challenges, from improving employee engagement to ensuring sustainability with a pipeline of qualified leaders. However, many issues can be solved by adopting a new approach to training and leadership development – one that combines those functions with key performance data.

Doing so can help the company groom its internal talent for leadership positions, rather than having to source externally in an ever competitive hiring environment, while providing the employee base with the competencies needed today and for the future.

Additionally, the right approach to learning can improve retention by giving employees the opportunity to continuously learn and enhance their skills, enabling them to advance through the ranks and become their company’s next great leaders.

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