On my first visit to the annual conference of the American Society for Training and Development in 2009, two days prior to speaking myself, I attended a lecture of the ASTD Talent Development Group. They endorsed my integrated thinking and could explain what makes this line of thought such a delicate issue. Their research showed that HR departments, due primarily to budgetary considerations, are less likely to perceive talent manage as an integrated process, let alone to address it as such. HRD will receive more budget when they have a nice talent development program on offer and career development will receive more funding when they the support the organizations’ outliers on carefully laid out career paths. It seems to me that every HR department fights for a piece of a puzzle, without laying the puzzle.
In 2008-2009 I was involved in the design of the talent program of ING Retail Netherlands, the Retail Banking Leadership Program. My focus in this program was assessing the architecture of all learning and development efforts. In combination with other related sub projects, that program became exemplary for an integrated approach.
Looking at talent development from a distance, it can only take off in co-operation with the right people that have been previously recruited and selected. Recruiting the right people requires strategic HR thinking where the profiles of the outliers could form the derivative profiles of the new intake. ING has not only clarified the profiles of the top managers, but has also formulated SMART entry requirements for young talents and has involved management in selecting the candidates. A marketing campaign targeted at carefully selected universities and student associations got the influx of young graduates into the RBLP started.
Having passed selection, the recruited talents begin to work and learn: there is a first job or project to get started with and – sometimes instantly – the talent development program is set into motion. This way the two worlds of working and learning are separated from day one. From an integrated perspective – and ING did this especially efficiently – that separation is not made. Jobs and projects connect seamlessly with the topics in the talent program developed by HRD. Moreover, the curriculum provides ample opportunities for talents to learn on the job and not only in the classroom.
After talent programs have come to an end some organizations stage regular talent reviews (Bryan & Joyce, 2007) (Cappelli, 2008) to optimise the match between talents, jobs, projects and initiatives. An even smaller group of organizations will offer their talents personal support in their career development. The combination of talent reviews and career development creates a dialogue between the organizational need for talent deployment and the talents’ unique desires for their professional development and careers.
Towards lifelong talent development: dream or reality?
In the rich tapestry of learning and development needs that talents come across in their careers, I dream of permanent talent development, or more accurately, from HRD taking an conscious active role in this process. Talents already develop themselves permanently by taking on new challenges in their careers, whether HRD plays a role, or not. I believe that talents, through careful career planning and job rotation, will develop their job related skills, but what about widening their competencies to become a high value specialist or member of the board? In that vein, I’m rather fond of the distinction between job-specific development, leadership development (or specialist development) and corporate development. How would it be for HRD to have a permanent – lifelong – learning environment on offer for the latter two clusters: be it during board meetings, in the workplace, in academies, in a social learning environment, with peer review, supervision or mentoring?
How would you visualize integrated talent development?
If you’ve never visited: please do take the time to go see Stomp. I did three times already and look forward to reacquaint myself with their incredible artistry.
Lowell L. Bryan and Claudia I. Joyce. Mobilizing minds: creating wealth from talent in the 21st-century organization. (2007)
Peter Cappelli. Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty. (2008)