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4 Simple Steps to Kick Off Talent Development at Your Company

The key to managing talents - arguably one of business’ most valuable assets - doesn’t end at their acquisition. As with any asset, the premium invested would have to be periodically increased to sow ever incrementing returns. Talent development initiatives enable that increment by tapping into the potential 74% of employees believe they have yet to unlock.

This approach is much less costly than risking turnover or being on the constant lookout for new hires: 36% of those fail within the first 18 months, and require an average of one-third of their yearly pay to be replaced. Therefore, it’s pivotal to implement a comprehensive talent development strategy. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to come up with one, if you just start with these four simple steps.

List Down Your OKRs

The formation of a business is usually driven by vision. There is typically an ultimate goal to be attained, one that stems the core identity of the business. It’s the battle cry that rallied all these like-minded individuals to join as employees in the first place.

This encompassing objective can be further broken down to various short- and long-term OKRs, each playing a part in inching the collective closer to their cause. List them down, lay them out in a mindmap, whatever floats your boat to help visualize them clearly.

Identify the Gap

Where there is a goal, there is a gap. From a vantage point, it might be hard to pinpoint the obstacles wedged between the organization and its optimal state. Here, we could take a page out of Apple’s management playbook. To enhance efficiency within a complex hierarchy, Apple employs a relatively straightforward system that works phenomenally well according to Forbes: Directly Responsible Individual, or DRI. For every task, there is a DRI entrusted with advancing it, who would also be the first to be questioned if progress is stalled.

Comparably, behind every gap is a party - either an individual or a team - assigned to close it but failed. Be it ineffective talent placement or a skill deficiency, it is recommended that you examine the issue at every level before formulating plans to improve it.

A Wish List of Skills and Mindsets

While going over the gaps, you might catch yourself thinking, “what if my sales leader is more resilient?” or “if only my design team is more creative”. It’s only natural - the practice is essentially a needs analysis that will lead you to solutions.

Take note of the what-ifs and if-onlys; make a list of skills you wish to cultivate among your employees. You should also include on the list desired mindset and behavioural changes, which could fundamentally dictate a person’s attitude towards learning opportunities and growth. It may be tempting to simply get new recruits to fill in the gaps, but they might incur high costs, cause tension and create unpredictable dynamic shifts in the workforce. Often, upskilling or rewiring existing employees suffices to tackle internal problems.

Categorize the Wish List

Final step in this practice: analyze the wish list you just made. Poring over the seemingly random agendas on the list, you can likely categorize them into the following subsets:


Within this subset are skills and mindsets you aim for specific individuals to acquire. Generally, you would want to effect these changes in a senior leader or high-impact personnel. Not only do they significantly influence the performance of the business, they also act as role models to inspire revisions among their subordinates.


These are improvements required for a team, a department, or a collection of people from across the company who face similar challenges. For instance, the design team that needs to be more creative, or a group of individuals pluck from different departments that should polish their communication skills.


Skills or mindset changes that are applicable organization-wide belong in this category. It may be for all employees to have better business acumen, or associated with the company’s culture.These adjustments should concern the key areas that will drive the business forward.

Throughout the process, it’s important to keep your OKRs in mind. Linking your talent development efforts to your overarching goal might seem intuitive, but 60% of enterprises still fall short of doing so. Having laid down the groundwork, you now have a strong foundation upon which a solid talent development strategy can be built with ease and precision.

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