3 Key Talent Development Strategies That Breed High Performance


People are at the core of any company’s long-term success. This is the belief that has fuelled the creation of office spaces that merge work, sleep and play in the name of promoting employee satisfaction, creating a positive work culture and encouraging better performance.




Fundamentally, though, the task of maximising employee performance is simultaneously much simpler yet much harder. It requires a deep familiarity with talent development strategies and the mechanics of intrinsic motivation.

In that regard, here’s 3 crucial things managers need to know to unlock their employees’ full potential in the workplace. For the whole nine yards, though, sign yourself up for SSA Academy’s WSQ course on developing a work team.


1. Get the right perspective: management vs. development


The epicentre of any effective talent development strategy is having the right perspective on what it means to develop talent to begin with.


“People Management”

If you’re just seeing it as “people management”, you’ll tend to to view investment in human capital as just another cog in the machine of profit growth, equal in importance with other aspects like supply chain management.

Obviously, human capital and the supply chain are two different entities that require two entirely different approaches. 

The more you view human capital investment as “people management”, the more that translates into taking a more controlling, cost-benefit approach which monopolises authority, holds back on training, and takes an arm’s-length approach to maintaining personal relationships with your employees.



That, in turn, normalises stagnation and emotional distance, inhibiting personal growth and  feeding your employees’ desire to seek greater professional development elsewhere.


“Talent Development”

Alternatively, if you see human capital development as the unquestionable foundation of corporate success, you’re coming into the game with a growth mindset focused on coaching, intrinsic motivation and giving each employee the resources they need to unleash the full extent of their talents.




In other words, you’ll see talent development as “parenting” (as serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk does), and your first and utmost priority will always be the well-being of your employees, especially their growth trajectory over time.

When this is the belief that underpins your efforts at developing your employees to the fullest, investing heavily in them and taking risks for the sake of cultivating your employees’ personal growth is a no-brainer.




2. Invest time, effort, and money in cultivating personal relationships


Being committed to facilitating the personal growth of your employees necessitates a sufficiently good grasp of each employee’s differing career goals and motivations.


One-size-fits-all doesn’t work.


People come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. What goes a long way in motivating one person may not do much to motivate another.

For some, positions and titles are their greatest motivators. For others, it’s the ability to provide a comfortable life for their family and loved ones. Others value having a strong sense of meaning and contribution to society through their work.




Understanding what makes every employee tick is crucial to knowing what works best to drive them to consistently perform beyond your expectations, and beyond their own expectations as well.

That’s impossible to do unless you start getting to know your employees more intimately and on a deeper personal level.




Honesty is a two-way street.


“Open communication” is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot in corporate circles. “Honesty”: less so.

Honesty is the building block of effective open communication. You and your employees need to be able to be honest with each other about everything that goes on within the organisation.




Employees should feel comfortable enough talking to you about toxic office politics, negative environments, and other less visible impediments to personal productivity that tend to be managerial blind spots.

In turn, you, as a manager, should respect your employees enough to be honest with them about everything from underperformance to negative attitudes to your own mistakes and oversights at work.




All of this is harder to do when you haven’t spent enough resources in building strong personal relationships between yourself and your employees. Once you’ve established this, though, that emotional investment you’ve made in the relationship intrinsically deepens the desire for all-around honesty.


3. Delegate authority: trust is given, not earned


Individual talent development does not happen in a vacuum; it requires a challenge.

If your priority is to develop people, then you need to give them a challenge to overcome–and you can’t give someone a challenge without entrusting them with the responsibility of facing and overcoming it.

People need space to grow and room to manoeuvre in order to truly flourish. As a manager, you task is to give them this opportunity to thrive. You have to give your employees this space in the form of delegating authority and entrusting them with incrementally bigger and bigger responsibilities.



The problem with this is that most managers fear the repercussions of failure should the entrusted employee be unable to rise to the challenge. Again, that comes down to having the right perspective on human capital development.

False starts, mistakes, failures, and disappointments: all of these are necessary and inevitable in the path of long-term personal and corporate growth.

That said, employees newly entrusted with greater authority will still require your guidance in the form of clearly defined  and articulated responsibilities and measurements for success.




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