Purposeful Talent Development: Why Do My Efforts Feel Scattered?

scattered puzzle pieces
Lesley Sears Photo
VP/Consulting Services

3 minutes

Planning learning and development that will be on point requires a deep conversation with your people.

Many organizations approach their talent development efforts by randomly choosing a few focus areas for the next quarter or year. Some choose to have everyone read and study the advice of a good business book. Others choose a few learning courses and push them out to all staff.

And those aren’t bad things to do.

But I bet if you asked the people leaders of organizations that approach talent development this way how their efforts are going, they may say they feel rather scattered. Some good new behaviors are being developed, but the behaviors aren’t sticky—people don’t continue to demonstrate those good new behaviors in the long term; the behaviors don’t seem to make organizational teams stronger and; in the final analysis, what’s learned doesn’t drive teams and the larger organization to deliver on its mission and vision.

What’s Wrong?

For best results for talent development, leaders need to understand what I call their “organizational insight.” That means getting to know your credit union from your people’s eyes, Asking your team what behaviors they know drive success—for them individually, for teams and for the whole organization. Leaders need to ask what team members see within the credit union that could be done better. They need to help their staff understand how to be a leader, not by title but by action.   

Importantly, the recipe for success at your credit union will be different from the recipe at any other credit union or company. But fortunately, your unique recipe for success will be built from ingredients from a standard list of behaviors that any organization can draw from. So, it’s not hard; you just how to know how to do the work to discern which behaviors are most important for you. And then do it. 

Put in the Time, Reap the Benefits

But that all takes time, you say?

It does. But the results are so worth it. After all, if you go generic and follow the good ideas of a randomly chosen book, you may get some positive behavior changes. If you add a few courses for all staff each year, some staff members might get excited about some aspects of the courses. But if you don’t step back and take a data-based look at what you’re doing, you’re just throwing darts at a dart board with your eyes closed! To make bullseyes, you’ll need to open your eyes and ask your team. 

Researching your organization’s true learning and development needs—surveying your people and learning what behaviors matter most for success—will enable you to set up training that teaches and develops those specific success behaviors at the individual contributor, manager and leader levels.

Get the Behaviors You Want

When you create your talent plan based on data, your plan will help you create behavioral changes through learning in ways that equate to success. When you approach talent development this way, you’ll soon see more successful people in your organization—because what they’re learning matters to their success. When you approach talent development this way, you’ll help individual contributors do their jobs better, managers supervise better and leaders lead better.

Moreover, when you’re teaching the skills that you’ve identified as critical for the success of people at each level of your organization, suddenly, they’ll all be rowing together. Your credit union will overall be more successful—and you won’t feel scattered at all.

Stepping in the gap between corporate complacency and organizational excellence is where Lesley Sears strives to be. Now VP/talent development consulting for CUES, Lesley is passionate about helping leaders find their company’s superpowers in talent development through a holistic approach: identify–develop–document-repeat. She’s a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a certified executive leadership coach and has over 20 years of experience consulting with organizations across many industries to strategically develop their talent’s best selves. When she’s not working to help organizations maximize their potential, you can find her digging in her flower beds, reading or watching classic movies. Maybe, on a good morning in the spring and fall, you’ll find her running—really slowly.

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