By Magdalena Bak-Maier, Founder, Make Time Count

Today’s headlines are dominated by myths of talent shortages, war for talent as well as many talent development do’s and don’ts offering advice, best practice, models and methodologies. The plethora of information as well as the exaggerated to a degree problem often cripples people into despair, panic and reactive practices that not only stifle existing talent but also impede talent development that can actually make a difference.

Here’s a set of simple ideas that can make a big difference to talent development on any scale and within small and larger budgets alike.

1. Start with the senior team or leader and get them to understand and practice talent development. This small number of individuals are often the treasure trove of potential projects and ideas with little time for execution but massive resources whether they be contacts, funds or experience. Build into all senior job descriptions an expectation for talent development within the company whatever its size and evaluate it as seriously as you would any other key performance indicator.
2. Understanding what talent(s) is needed now and in the future and creating tactical interventions to nurture and support its development. Talent can’t be done in a vacuum and any investment in people aught to produce specific returns. So take the time to identify the key one or two skills, behaviours or attitudes that would most transform and add value to the business and set on developing them swiftly and well.
3. Don’t let talent walk out the door. Find a way to regularly stimulate your staff with new projects and challenges so that they keep growing. If you are small, consider creating reciprocal exhcanges or invest in developing people for careers further afield with the view that they will enhance your reputation as an employer of choice and help you attract new talent in their place. If needed, implement a company wide survey to track the level of staff perceived potential and the degree to which they get to contribute and maximize this relationship as much as possible. In many companies I have worked with, I am astounded at the mismatch between the latent potential of many staff I have met and their ability to convert this into results. Understanding the barriers to this conversion is an incredibly worthwhile organizational development or human resources project.

Don’t buy into the fad that talent is in short supply. Develop a more generous and enriching attitude and approach the world and your company with the belief that talent is in fact everywhere. Much of it remains untapped and all we need to do is find ways of releasing it.