Get the best tips & tricks for HR and L&D leaders straight into your inbox
Sign Up for the Newsletter

Employee Development

Talent Development: How to Build a Culture of High Performance

Talent development programs are a critical way for organizations to keep their high-performing employees engaged with their roles and want to continue growing internally. For HR and business leaders who want to build teams that raise the bar for the whole organization here are four ways to do so by focusing on developing their careers and talents.

Ryan Carruthers

September 13, 2021

For many companies, talent development can be disappointing. While you have the best of intentions, the results can be flat.

Training and development is a significant investment that companies make in their employees. Statistics show that money spent on these initiatives has been steadily increasing over the past few years. The average employer pays over $1,000 per employee for development.

To spend so much not to see great results can leave anyone feeling frustrated with the process. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right understanding and approach, talent development can help you build a culture of high performance for your organization.

What is Talent Development?

Talent development is a process that HR uses to attract, develop, motivate and retain employees. It is a method of identifying an employee’s strength and creating growth opportunities for them in the company that capitalizes on those strengths. Or, put another way, it equips employees with new skills and sets them up for career advancement in the company. The ultimate goal for talent development is to cultivate a high-performing organization that can meet its goals and objectives. It includes activities such as

  • Acknowledging the potential of each employee
  • Building on employee strengths
  • Moving workers to positions where they are better suited
  • Creating plans to help teams grow and thrive over time
  • Focusing on talent development initiatives that encourage growth


Why is Talent Development Important?

Talent development should be a key activity of companies that want to secure a strong future. It helps increase employee engagement and reduce turnover, and saves your company money in the long term. Studies have found that younger employees are at a higher risk of leaving their jobs sooner, mainly because they are not satisfied at work.

One survey found that 48 percent of Millennials and 78 percent of Gen Z expected to leave their jobs within two years. But, these employees are not gone yet, which means if executives and business leaders find the right way to engage them, they may become happier and more productive workers. For example, LinkedIn’s 2019 workplace learning report found that “94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.”

Here are some other reasons why you’ll want to think about developing the talent at your organization.

Engages employees by putting them in the driver seat of their career

Employees that lack a vision or career plan are more likely to be disengaged and unmotivated in their work. They don’t see a purpose in their jobs. Moreover, they don’t see how they can be promoted to a higher position. You can increase the engagement of employees by designing a career path uniquely suited for them. Consider their skills and interest and create a learning plan to help them move to the next level.

Retains top talent

The COVID pandemic has changed employees’ willingness to stay in their jobs. Millions of U.S. workers are quitting, a move that has been dubbed the great resignation. Keeping employees and high potential talent in the face of this change can be a challenge for HR leaders. By investing in talent development, you will help employees see a future at your organization.

Provides autonomy to employees and intrinsic motivation

Allowing employees to take responsibility for their careers can be an important turning point for many. Rather than just passively waiting for a promotion, employees can take the initiative to move their careers forward. Offering them talent development opportunities allows them to take control of how they apply their skills and strengths to their work.

Supports equity, inclusion, and belonging within the company

Talent development can help employees feel valued as they understand that company leaders want to help them grow. It can also help minorities within the organization feel recognized and know that their leaders want to help them define a path for their career advancement. Although equity, inclusion and belonging are hard to measure, it’s so important to invest in because companies can’t afford to build organizations where certain individuals don’t feel like they are valued. Leaders and managers should actively solicit feedback from members of diverse backgrounds within their organization to understand what they can do better to help them progress along their career path. Check out this article to learn about how this startup became a diverse organization by doing just that.

4 ways to develop talent and empower high performing employees

1.Connect leaders with high performers through mentoring relationships

One-on-one mentoring is the ideal setting for talent development. It allows mentees to focus on their professional development through goal setting. Mentors act as advisors and guides as the mentee defines their goals and sets out to attain them. Regular meetings act as progress check-ins for both the mentor and mentee. Keeping the mentee accountable helps propel their development and goal attainment further. As trust builds in the mentorship, the mentee benefits from insights offered by their mentor. These include feedback on performance or goals and can also include wisdom and knowledge the mentor has gained and is passing along.

2. Connect colleagues at the same level for peer development

Researchers have discovered that peer learning is already happening at our organizations, but informally. If colleagues have questions, they will often ask each other for answers before seeking out a manager or someone higher-up. This may be because our peers are constantly around us, while leadership can be harder to reach when a challenge arises. There are many benefits of peer-to-peer learning in the workplace, including knowledge sharing, training, and talent development opportunities.

3. Organize groups to discuss common challenges and goals

Enabling employees with similar interests or backgrounds to support each other is essential for talent development. Over 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have employee resource groups or ERGs. These groups are spaces where employees can access resources and support unique to the challenges they face at work. They also serve to build connections among employees and training opportunities.

4. Engage in career pathing with all employees

Career pathing refers to a unique path for employees and is critical to their development. It offers insight for employees into opportunities and different positions within the company that they may be interested in. It’s important to note that career pathing is not the same as climbing the ladder. Development opportunities may not always be vertical but always offer new challenges for employees. Moving laterally in an organization to gain new experiences is still progress. For that reason, a squiggly career path is more natural than climbing a corporate ladder.  


Talent Development for Your Organization

Many benefits can be reaped with talent development initiatives. From increasing employee engagement to supporting inclusivity at work, having a development strategy for your employees can quickly lead to improvements across your organization. Taking care of your best and brightest is the best way to build a better organization.

Curious how organizations can start their own talent development programs? Starting a mentoring program is an effective way to encourage employees to explore their career goals and gain advice from leaders within your organization. You can learn more about starting one program on our guide to starting a mentorship program.

close button

Download our Full Report on Mentoring

We interviewed and surveyed employees from 50+ leading North American Companies including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose Fulbright, Mackenzie Investments. Get the results below.