Corporate Training White Paper

Fluid Talent Development: A New Talent Development Concept

Talent development today is all about change in skills, competencies, and behaviors to support strategic business needs. Corporations are challenged with the path to change and the confidence that the change will match what is needed. To bring about real change there has to be collaboration, active participation and continuous reinforcement. This demands a significant commitment to time and involvement between the facilitator, the leader, and all members of the team that will be impacted --- back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth.

By Deanna Scott and Eric Kurtz, College of Lake County & Global Corporate College

Sean Conrad, a Certified Human Capital Strategist at Halogen Software, states that:  “When you’re trying to effect a significant change in the organization, it’s vital to align everyone to support the change initiative and monitor progress. Otherwise, as is human nature, people will keep doing what they’ve always done.”

A one-time stand up 8-hour workshop can at most explain the need for change, what has to change, and/or what the leader and the group must do to achieve this change. However, many companies are realizing that no workshop, no matter how profound, can actually accomplish the change without continuous and repeated interaction.

The engagement of both the leader(s) and the team are critical to the success of change as they help to align talent development efforts with the strategic business objectives. As such, change can only take place when the leader(s) and the team…

…agree that change is needed. 

…agree on what needs to change. 

…agree and commit to what they will do to make the change happen. 

…stay engaged in evaluation, feedback and reinforcement of the change.

A similar process is recommended in an Association of Talent Development (ATD) article titled: “SCALE: Aligning Talent Development Solutions to Strategic Objectives” by Ingrid Guerra-Lopez and Karen Hicks, dated Wednesday, July 29, 2015. In this article, Guerra-Lopez and Hicks recommend the following three phased model for aligning talent development with strategic objectives:

Phase 1: Understand Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Needs

Phase 2: Design Alignment

Phase 3: Track and Confirm Alignment Results

A more complete and fluid model for aligning talent development with business objectives is recommended, based on the speed of business today and the fluidity of the changes that are needed to support that business. The following detailed model is a result of much trial and error over a number of years by professional learning and development consultants at the College of Lake County. Through their work with organizations of all sizes addressing change of one kind or another, the following model evolved. 

  • Understand the Change - Meet with the people wanting the change and gain a clear picture of the business situation and the desired outcomes.
  • Gain the Leader’s Insights - Start with several interviews with the leader who wants the change and get a clear picture of what the change should look like when it is fully implemented.
  • Obtain Commitment - Gain long-term commitment from the stakeholders to bring about the change over time. It might be three months or three years, based on the magnitude of the change.
  • Gain Each Team Member’s Insights - Interview each member of the team and get their positive and negative insights as to why they think the change is needed.
  • Identify the Skill Gaps & Consulting Needs - Determine the 3-5 most significant skills and/or behaviors required to enable the change.
  • Design and Develop the Solution - Put together the objectives and topics that support development of each skill and behavior, identify applicable assessments, and highlight examples and case studies.
  • Layout a Recurring Cycle of Workshops & One-on-Ones for Feedback and Reinforcement - Schedule times after the workshops for one-on-ones with team members and leader(s) to support skill development and/or behavior change, provide feedback and reinforcement. 
  • Collect Input from Team Regularly - Get input from the team members as to how they will apply the learned skills and behaviors in light of the change, business objectives, and/or plans. Also identify which related topics should be taught next.
  • Report the Team Input Back to the Leader(s) - Share findings regularly with the leader and make changes to the objectives and topics, or even the whole subject of the next training based on findings and business needs. This time is also used to coach and develop the leader(s) as they need to be mirroring the new skills and behaviors.

The Bottom Line:  The successful talent development consultant and solution of today must be fluid, able to shift, change, and sometimes redo the program so that it integrates the input of the leader(s) and each member of the team to address the business case at hand. By definition, this is continuous improvement. Talent development professionals can no longer be rigid in the program, but must be a part of providing a fluid solution that includes training, coaching, consulting and continuous feedback. Rigid off-the-shelf training is a thing of yesteryear.

About the Authors:

Deanna Scott has personally trained over 300,000 people worldwide on subjects including leadership, communication, business writing, negotiating skills, managing time, and resolving conflict. She teaches regularly for the College of Lake Country and is one of their top 10 go-to experts when clients present a need that involves bringing about significant change to their organization.  Deanna’s insight in how to acquire professional and personal skills and adjust behaviors at every level of the organization brings her both praise and repeat business because of the quality of her training and her attention to the needs of both leaders and delegates. Deanna is also the author of Reconstructing David, an intimate story of a mother’s dedication and devotion to her teenage son’s recovery after a brutal motorcycle accident, and the things she learned through David’s long slow journey back from traumatic brain injury. Deanna attended the University of Michigan and majored in Psychology.

Eric Kurtz has been in the learning and development arena for over 20 years. He got his start at a NASA facility developing and delivering training for buyers, contract negotiators and end users as a Business Systems Analyst with Training Team Lead responsibilities. He did a brief stint as a Learning & Development Consultant with ExecuTrain before being hired away as the Training Manager for RightFAX, a software company. In this capacity, Eric developed technical and user training to support a software system along with soft skills to support internal, reseller and distributor needs. Growing weary of the glamourous life of the travelling trainer, Eric moved to a position managing training for a healthcare system where he partnered with the College of Lake County (CLC). Following an acquisition that resulted in a layoff, Eric worked as a consultant at CLC for a year before being hired as the Director of Client Solutions, a group focused on providing training, coaching and consulting services to companies in and adjacent to Lake County Illinois. Eric is also the member college leader of the Global Corporate College major markets team. Eric has a B.S. in Business Administration from Biola University and a M.B.A. from California State Polytechnic University.

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