Developing Your Talent


Six Ways to Develop Home-Grown Talent and Boost Engagement

By Kristen Leverone on September 12, 2013

Higher levels of engagement are shown to positively impact service quality, boost individual productivity and lower health costs. This is a powerful business incentive to get engagement right. Yet, according to the Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, only 30% of employees are reportedly engaged in their work – a figure that has remained fairly constant over the past 12 years. The subject of employee engagement has garnered a significant amount of research, much has been written, much has been invested, but the needle doesn’t seem to move.

When organizations fail to tap the full potential of their people, they are creating a workplace fraught with dissatisfaction and disillusion.  According to a recent LHH survey, 62 percent of workers report that they feel their skills are often underutilized. Many workers want to be more deeply connected and involved – but lack the information and support to navigate within the organization and identify opportunities for the growth and development that will lead to feeling fully utilized and making truly meaningful contributions.

Additional research from LHH found that only 41% of respondents felt employees were well informed about opportunities for lateral mobility within their firms, and even fewer report having transparency around advancement opportunities in their organization. The key is to help individuals mobilize and provide them with the information or resources they need to improve their skills and identify potential career opportunities.

In her article, “Grow Talent; Don’t Buy It,” Laura Zander recounts the story of a new hire who, after a bumpy start, was given an opportunity to grow within the fledgling organization. The owners recognized the skills and experience she brought to the organization, invested in her development, and took pride as she successfully navigated through rough positions of increased responsibility. The employee flourished along with the organization.

Whether it’s a lateral move or a move up the career ladder, how do you ensure your organization has a workforce that’s ready and able to move into new roles as they become available?

  1. Value development. Career development programs help employees evaluate their individual work styles, skills, and preferences against the requirements of specific internal jobs and business needs.
  2. Initiate career conversations. Managers should act as coaches for their employees – discussing career goals, supporting appropriate development, advocating on their behalf and helping them make internal connections.
  3. Promote hiring transparency. Make opportunities known via an easily accessible source of internal postings and keep employees well informed about requirements for positions.
  4. Encourage big-picture thinking. Some managers are tempted to “hoard” talent. Instead, reward managers for looking at what’s best for the organization as a whole – not just their individual departments.
  5. Cross-train. Cross-training your employees will enhance their skills, provide a just-in-time “bench” of talent, and keep critical knowledge in house.
  6. Support internal networking. Offer opportunities for internal networking through interdepartmental meetings and company-sponsored events.

Growing talent internally reduces recruiting costs – as well as the risk – associated with hiring external candidates. It also creates a culture of empowerment, fostering improved retention, engagement and productivity. Most importantly, a mobile workforce allows the employer to leverage existing corporate “intelligence” and create an agile organization that can adapt quickly to changing market demands.

One Response to “Six Ways to Develop Home-Grown Talent and Boost Engagement”

  1. Elisa McArthur

    Hey Kristen. Another great article. Thanks, as always, for your insight and perspective. I could not agree more with the six steps you outlined. They present a key reminder for me as I head into year-end development check-ins and performance conversations.

    Thank you!


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