Purposeful Talent Development: Why You Should Still Invest in Talent Development During a Crisis

swimmer in pool
Jennifer Stangl Photo
Director of Professional Development

2 minutes

Helping your team learn even when times are tough will help them shift from treading water to moving your organization forward.

We live in a world of rapid change and evolution. We regularly identify how we can adapt and adjust to changes—from new technology to new member needs. However, if asked to list why we might experience large-scale organizational change in 2020, many of us wouldn’t have picked “global pandemic.” Regardless, this is where we are and how we move forward will directly impact the success of our organization and the industry. 

As we look to modify policies and shift products and services for members, we need to remember the importance of developing our talent. Rita Gunther McGrath, author of The End of Competitive Advantage, states “when you realize that shifts are inevitable, training people to be able to move from advantage to advantage becomes a cost of doing business. It’s just as important a bill to pay as the one you pay to keep the lights on and the computers running.” (Read more about McGrath’s discovery-driven planning ideas in this previous CUES article.) 

Considering everything that is changing, one thing that can remain constant is our ability to develop our staff. This can be done with cross-training or building new skills, all aimed at individual and organizational growth. Organizations that succeed amid rapid change have two things in common regarding their workforce.

1. A workforce that is willing and able to learn new things. This could be as simple as the desire and adaptability to learn a new technology or process within the team or something as large as supporting or transitioning to another team. 

2. A conscious, continued effort to develop staff. This includes understanding that focusing on training and development creates greater flexibility to shift and adjust priorities as needed.  

McGrath shares that “smart companies recognize that continuous training and development is a mechanism to avoid having to fire people when competitive conditions shift, and they invest in training even as they pursue deployment.” In times of change and adjustment, continuing to support talent development can position our teams to succeed and come out stronger.

Setting development aside during times of change is like treading water. You’ve managed to keep breathing, but you haven’t made any progress toward shore. Organizations and leaders need to balance taking time to address needs, while helping staff take steps to build skillsets and talent for today and the future.

Jennifer Stangl is director of professional development at CUES.

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