The PeopleCap Playbook

Timely insights and actionable people strategies for leaders.

Talent Development Is a State of Mind

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Years ago, McKinsey popularized the phrase “The War for Talent,” and warned that the companies who were best at acquiring and developing high quality talent would be the most successful. Fortune 100 companies answered the call, as did many companies in Silicon Valley, where there was an urgent need to stay on the cutting edge.

For most of the rest of the country, however, the War for Talent wasn’t much of a reality. There was plenty of talent available, and the skills needed were not difficult to find. That is no longer the case. The landscape has changed. Having an effective strategy to develop employees is no longer optional – it is an imperative.

Several factors are converging to bring the war for talent right to the doorstep of smaller companies.

The Pace of Change

Business is evolving faster than we can keep up. Only 50% of CEO’s feel their organizations are adapting quickly enough to meet their goals [CEB Reimagine HR conference]. It is estimated that 60% of the jobs in the 21 st century will require skills that only 20% of workforce possesses.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler

Different Attitudes Toward Work

Millennials account for almost 75% of the workforce globally by 2025, and they have a very different perspective on work. They are focused on learning and increasing their skills, and expect professional development opportunities from their employers. Gallup found that 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important. (Gallup, How Millennials Work and Live (2016)).

What does this mean for you?

These two factors alone demonstrate that developing your employees is no longer an option. It’s imperative – both to keep up with increasing need for advanced skills and to keep good employees who crave professional development.

To effectively unleash the potential of your people, you must: Abandon a judgment-based, backward looking view of performance. Adopt a growth mindset. Establish a culture where learning is valued.

In a learning culture, people are encouraged to learn new skills. Managers and employees work together to identify growth opportunities and reflect on performance. Innovation is rewarded and failure is accepted as part of the process. There is a symbiotic relationship between company and employee – through growth and development, employees create more value for the company and the company increases the value of employees. Companies are motivated by higher performance; employees are motivated by learning new skills.

Adopting a growth mindset is free. You can start by asking a few critical questions:

  • Do we have a learning culture?
  • How do we respond to failure?
  • What professional development and growth opportunities do our employees want?
  • How can we better support their learning?

You will learn a lot from the answers.

The next blog in this series will discuss some of the most effective, simple, and low-cost methods to implement a talent development strategy at your company.