There is a fundamental shift taking place in the way we work. The corporate workforce has, in a few short generations, completely transformed itself. These changes have been triggered by talent shortages, the interaction of different generations in the workplace, globalization and technological innovations. We need skilled workers, and we need to accelerate the development of our new and existing people to ensure they can take on new roles faster and capture the rich body of knowledge and expertise from the retiring baby boomers in our enterprises.

But how can we accomplish this? And what are the key talent management instruments that need to be implemented in enterprises?

Here are three primary talent objectives for learning leaders to consider as they prepare for this transformation in the workforce:

• Identification of key talent linked to succession planning and strategy execution.

• Performance motivation and management.

• Development through mobility, learning and coaching.

People can be identified for new and/or expanded roles through well-executed performance management and succession management processes. Most companies skilled in these areas know who their high performers are — typically between 5 and 15 percent of the workforce. Furthermore, the top talent among the high performers must be identified and linked to the succession plan. This can only succeed if the current leadership is engaged in the identification and preparation of these future leaders. Those in the leadership pipeline can be placed in two tiers: those who are essentially ready now and could function immediately and those who, with more development and experience, could be ready later.

The highly talented people who will be ready later are then targeted for new assignments that focus on key developmental tasks. It is becoming apparent through decades of research and my own career experiences that the most important way to develop people is rotation into different roles, and in our global age, across boundaries. Working with a new team, a different division or department, location or country in a new stretch assignment takes people out of their comfort zones and moves them into a learning zone.

Highly talented performers are then prepared for a future stretch assignment by assessing key competencies they need to master the new role. Based on the competency gap, an individual development plan is prepared. This plan could be a combination of a number of different activities, including:

• Working with an executive coach.

• Mentoring from a trusted senior leader.

• Personal leadership assessments that provide better insight in development needs of the leader. (Social and emotional intelligence is a great predictor of future performance of the leader.)

• Participation in specific learning and leadership programs that support developmental goals.

Accelerated development of people is well supported if they have access to knowledge and learning that they need to do their jobs at the time they need it. Online learning can play an important role, as it will provide just-in-time, compressed learning for rapid skills development. Furthermore, virtual coaching has become a scalable solution for the development and support of leaders.

However, much is required of the individuals beyond what the organizational processes, systems and capabilities can offer. It requires career entrepreneurship — that is, people willing to take risks and opportunities in a career progression that does not follow traditional stepping stones. And this is the greatest challenge for organizations. Can large-scale enterprises provide the assignments that do not follow lockstep career advancement and become more entrepreneurial in considering what constitutes a successful career path?


Accelerated development can develop individual potential faster, provide the knowledge and experience people need and build a strong leadership pipeline only if our organizations can create a vibrant, dynamic view of entrepreneurial, individualized and empowering career paths.

Did You Know?

High-potential employees typically constitute between 5 percent to 15 percent of an organization’s workforce. Harvard -Business School Professor Thomas J. -DeLong estimates that so-called “B -players” make up about 75 percent of workers at nearly any company.



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