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Revolutionizing Talent Development: The Power of Talent Conversations within Leadership Teams

What's the status of talent development at your company?


If your experience is like mine, talent development has typically been a check the box activity with little value. 

Think about traditional succession planning.  You spend hours with a leadership team hashing out and documenting ready now talent, those ready for a position in 3-5 years, and a future watch list.  There's a sudden opening on the leadership team.  An up-and-comer from the other side of the business is chosen for the spot - no one on the detailed succession plan was considered.


Or maybe you're a mighty, but tired, one-person HR army for your organization.  You'd love to consider talent development, but there's just no time and the managers wouldn't take the work seriously anyways.


I think there is a way to address both situations.


Let's talk about a new, more simple way to 1)  get talent development going in your organization and 2) hone your talent development edge.  One simple strategy revolutionizes talent development and tackles both purposes.

Revolutionize Talent Development; team meeting, people laughing


A New Way to Think about Talent Development - the Talent Conversation

A Talent Conversation is a targeted discussion about talent (we're talking about people), their performance, potential, and development.  Talent Conversations are a new way to think about traditional talent development activities, such as talent reviews.  I've been there done that and have been trying a new way the last several years - and it's working.  I'm sharing from experience, and am quite pleased with the results I'm seeing in the organization and within management teams. 


Interested?  Stay with me.  We'll talk through Talent Conversations within Leadership Teams.


Talent Conversations also apply to managers and the discussions they should be having with their employees.  There are four occasions where these types of Talent Conversations are crucial to keeping employees engaged and performing well - 4 Talent Conversations Managers Should Be Having.



Talent Conversations within Leadership Teams

When you create space for leadership teams to talk together about the talent on their teams, you're doing a couple of things:

  1. Dedicating targeted time to focus managers on how to grow their employees with actionable outcomes.

  2. Building the capability of managers to think critically about the talent on their teams.


Talent Conversations avoid the process and formal nature of traditional talent activities in favor of frequent, informal discussions that make talent development relevant and helpful to managers.  They are topical discussions designed to be useful and timely for leadership teams.  You control the topic based on current business needs. 


Attrition a rising focus?  Dedicate this quarter's Talent Conversation to addressing retention risks.  Planning for key retirements, this quarter is the time to focus on succession planning.  Talent Conversations flex with the ebb and flow of the business year.  My strategy is to plan out Talent Conversation topics for our organization with my team early in the year.  We then secure time on calendars proactively and allow flexibility in timing and topic.


What Talent Conversations for Leadership Teams Look Like

Shelve those hefty binders or detailed PowerPoints. I like Talent Conversations low on tech and high on discussion.  My goal is for us to worry less about where employees fit in various talent matrices and more about how performance is going, how they should and want to develop, and what managers are going to do about it. 


The Goal of a Talent Conversation

The goal of a Talent Conversation:  two hours each quarter with a leadership team talking about the talent in their group.  Topics vary each quarter and are tailored to the needs of the team or current talent hot spots.  Sample topics include:

  • Critical talent.

  • Retention risks and actions needed to keep employees engaged.

  • Succession pools for critical roles.


Talent Conversations within a leadership team get managers intentionally talking about their employees as a group, raising concerns, and working together to identify talent gaps, issues, and successes.  It's strategic talent muscle building and it takes time.


I Use Talent Conversations with Success

I introduced the concept of Talent Conversations in my organization over two years ago.  We've seen tremendous results with an increase in the talent acumen of leaders, as well as increased retention and career growth of the employees on their teams.  Further, leadership teams have identified opportunities to partner together to address group retention risks and are sharing proud stories about employees who have achieved successes or taken on growth opportunities.


At the end of the first year of Talent Conversations, each leadership team had a list of critical talent, retention risks, and a leadership succession pool. They made plans, emerging out of the pandemic, to get employees together for department and development events, increased their mentoring, and moved talent around for growth.


In just two years of Talent Conversations, we noted that managers were talking about employee potential and performance with more ease.  Career and stay conversations are happening as needed, and leadership teams are addressing talent more strategically and with intention.

I'd like to help you shine by initiating Talent Conversations with one or two of your management teams.


Invitation to Learn about Talent Conversations in a Mentoring Circle

If you're interested in including Talent Conversations in your talent development work or you're looking for a place to get started with talent development, please join an upcoming Mentoring Circle on Talent Conversations within Leadership Teams.  Mentoring Circles are a combo of knowledge building, networking, and talent consulting.  I think you'll be glad you did and I will certainly be glad to connect with you.


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