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ATD Blog

Filling the Recruiting Gap With Growth and Development

Friday, March 3, 2023

There was a time in our social contract when we considered employment a lifetime thing: Get hired by a good organization and work your way up. But these days, successful people change jobs approximately seven times during their careers, some as frequently as every three to five years. Naturally, this puts a premium on recruiting—and retaining—high-quality performers.

But what happens when the human capital market makes it hard to find people capable of getting the job done? What do we do when it gets harder to keep them? As of February 2023, the national unemployment rate is 3.4 percent. The people who want jobs have them; those who want to change jobs can.

Hiring the Right People

Where will employers find qualified workers, and where will future leaders come from? When looking to hire and promote employees, managers must answer three questions:

  • Can the potential new hires do the job? (ability)
  • Will they do the job? (motivation and engagement)
  • Do they fit the organization? (integration)

While there are myriad talent management strategies to answer these three questions, an approach of growth and development can provide the solution.


Growing and Developing Employees

When we struggle to find fully qualified employees to step in and do the job, we must grow them into the positions. We make this investment when we hire based on potential instead of experience.

We may not recruit from the outside to fill positions higher in the organization. Instead, we’ll need to take some current employees and develop them into future leaders.

When challenged with growing current employees into their positions or developing them for future responsibilities, there are several approaches:

  • Training (teaching particular skills or behaviors)
  • Education (developing broad knowledge and skills)
  • Coaching (focusing on growth and development through dialogue)
  • Mentoring (advising and guiding provided by more-experienced workers)

Training—offered by your organization or from outside sources—is often most effective when growing your employees. For example, an insurance broker hires a new salesperson and sends them to a training course to prepare for the licensing exam, or a company provides an onboarding program to teach its policies and procedures.

Developing future leaders also often relies on training. For future leaders to learn more about their technical skills, leadership, and business savvy, we can put them through programs we run, or through certificates, industry certifications, and even advanced college degrees.

Focusing on growth and development ensures employees are capable of doing the tasks at hand and prepared to take on greater challenges and opportunities in the future. The more challenging it is to find ready-made performers, the more crucial it is for TD professionals to step in to grow and develop them.

About the Author

Rich Douglas has extensive public- and private-sector experience in training, management and leadership, and delivering solutions for AT&T, Corrections Corporation of America, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and others. A retired United States Air Force officer, Douglas has also been a faculty member for several universities. He holds an MBA from National University, a doctorate from Union Institute and University, specializing in nontraditional higher education and a doctorate in human resource development from the University of Leicester. He also holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD), and Professional Certified Coach (PCC) designations. Rich resides in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife, Paula, and their dog, Lucy.

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