We are now two weeks into our brand transition from ASTD to the Association for Talent Development. I’m grateful to all who have reached out to us with their encouragement, thoughts, and questions. Whether via email, phone call, or on social media, we value your input and feedback.

One of the themes I’m hearing is the question on whether talent development describes the work of the practitioners that this organization has been serving for 70+ years. Input around this topic has ranged from “I feel like I’m going to tune into Dancing with the Stars” to “talent describes innate abilities, not people” to “talent describes a subset of people who have been identified as high potential.”

atd-logo-webAnd there are many who say, “I get it. Talent development is people development.”

That last statement is the heart of the matter and the foundation behind our re-branding.

We are seeing proof in many places that the term talent development has come to encompass the breadth and depth of the profession we serve and includes all of the Areas of Expertise that are reflected in our Competency Model including performance improvement–and more!

Where is the proof of this, you may ask. Let me share a few examples.

LinkedIn is seeing a surge in the number of individuals who have “leading and managing talent” in their titles or public profiles, particularly in professional services. They told us that the trajectory of the rise in these talent-focused titles and talent-focused job postings is substantive and out-pacing the more traditional titles.

In addition to the rise in talent development positions, the T&D or L&D functions are also seeing a shift. This post describes what supplier OpenSesame, one of the exhibitor’s at our International Conference and EXPO earlier this month, is seeing in the field and how NBC Universal has re-branded their learning function to “Talent Lab.” Organizations like the American Cancer Society, Comcast, FAA, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and UPS have people leading talent development.

Our own Job Bank reflects a rise in talent development positions. Increasingly we’ve seen postings from large companies like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods for talent development professionals. We’re seeing similar jobs from smaller organizations as well, like an April posting for a Talent Development Manager for a bank in South Dakota and a similar posting for a college in Texas.

I note this because the descriptions for these talent development jobs encompass training and development and more. Here are some examples.

• “The Talent Development Manager will champion the enhancement of organization’s culture and values by designing and implementing training and development strategies and programs focused on motivating, engaging, and educating a committed and high performing workforce. This new position will lead change through effective collaboration and influencing skills; establish and align curriculum, and assist with implementation of succession planning…. A Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Development, HR or related field is needed, along with five to seven years of experience in training and development.”

• “The Director of Talent and Development will lead the design, implementation, and evaluation of talent management and development programs. This new role…will partner with business leaders and HR to design and implement talent strategies, employee and leadership development programs, compensation and evaluation programs, and cultural/change leadership initiatives. These initiatives will allow the company to improve business performance while strengthening the organization for continued growth.”

• “Talent Development Consultant…an exciting opportunity for a high performing OD/business or clinical professional to join our team…”

• “Talent Development Coordinator…A Bachelor’s degree in Training & Development or HR Development field preferred. Master’s degree a plus. 7+ years’ experience in curriculum design and training…”

The term talent development means building the knowledge, skills, and abilities of others and helping them develop and achieve their potential so that the organizations they work for can succeed and grow. This is the work of the profession we’ve served for more than seven decades. And it is also the work of others – like frontline managers – who are tasked with developing their employees and who also need content, resources, and tools to help them accomplish this work.

Dan Pontefract, who transformed learning and the organizational culture at TELUS, a telecom in Canada, said this in a recent blog, “Talent development is not solely about training. Furthermore, when one is developing, delivering or designing ‘training,' I wouldn’t subscribe to it being the only form of talent development. …Talent is developed inside and outside of ‘training and development.' It comes in the form of coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, wiki’s, blogs, rotations, lectures, books, articles, job aids, leadership models … the list literally goes on and on.”

Developing people. Developing talent.

• If you are a classroom trainer or facilitator you are developing talent.
• Do you design e-learning? You absolutely impact the development of employees… talent. And if you’re working in mobile learning you’re helping talent access content when and where they need it.
• Onboarding a new hire or coaching a CEO? You are certainly developing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Talent development. Dancing with the Stars? No. Creating a world that works better? Most definitely, yes.