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ATD Blog

Why Your Organization’s Talent Development Strategy Comes Down to Your People Managers

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Managing people can be one of the most rewarding career steps you can take. When you’re a manager, you’re given more insight into company strategy and the authority to make crucial decisions that directly affect your team. In the wise words of Peter Parker (also known as Spiderman), “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” And a big part of that responsibility is developing your people.

The benefits of managers who support their teams’ talent development are proven. Managers can boost employee performance by up to 26 percent and more than triple the likelihood that workers are high performers. Despite those realities, research from Degreed reveals that managers do not provide consistent talent development guidance or support.

Losing Your Stars

Think for a moment about your star team member. She always exceeds her goals. And you know you can count on her in crunch time. Now imagine she leaves. How much work gets reallocated? How much extra work do you have to take on?

Employee hoarding by managers is real, even among those with the best intentions for growth and internal mobility. When you lose resources, you have extra work on your plate along with a lengthy hiring process. Managers are also responsible for many key performance indicators (KPIs). And frequently, talent development is not one of them.

Managers may choose to prioritize initiatives that will drive their stated KPIs as they guide employees. To your people, that might feel disconnected from a talent development conversation. “I need you to respond more quickly to questions” sounds different than “I would like to help you improve your communication skills.” Most likely, your KPI is measured in efficiency, not skill growth.

Depending on organization norms, an hour a week with a manager may be a luxury. Given that we can’t manufacture time, spending it on development and career conversations can seem daunting.


Fear Not. Stars Shine Brightly

Imagine your superstar once again. Now imagine the team members to her left and right. What if you could make them superstars too? Better yet, what if you empower your OG star to build coaching, leadership, and feedback skills by sharing her own knowledge and techniques to grow the functional skills of the rest of the team? That’s powerful.

How long should this take? Factor in 15 minutes for a weekly check-in and provide feedback as your people build new skills. To prepare for this, spend about 30 minutes on development strategy time to evaluate what you need to bring to the meeting.

Getting Started: Setting Goals

If there isn’t a KPI for your team’s or team members’ talent development, make one. One way to do this is to use objectives and key results ( OKRs) as a framework. Here’s what it looks like:

Objective: Coach your people to guide their own development.


Key results:

  • Conduct monthly skills and career conversations.
  • Update focus skills quarterly on Degreed.
  • Complete self rating on focus skills quarterly on Degreed.
  • Complete skill review on focus skills quarterly on Degreed.
  • [For managers] update manager rating on role-based skills quarterly on Degreed.

With this framework, there’s no need for this process to be long and intensive. Schedule a monthly meeting with each person on your team and give yourself thirty minutes to prep and plan for the session. When you know exactly what needs to be addressed and how to measure your talent development strategy’s success, meeting time is used more efficiently.

Time Is Money. Spend It Wisely

It doesn’t take a lot of time to make a big impact. Sharing content with a teammate or report can happen in five minutes a week. Dedicating this time to reach out to your team and share useful resources can make big strides in your strategy.

Asking how someone felt or what they learned after a big project also only takes five minutes (or a few extra if you ask additional questions like “What are you most proud of?” or “What would you change for next time?”

By using your time wisely, planning efficiently, setting reminders, and identifying and homing in on your superstars, you can become an active part of your team’s talent development.

About the Author

Kristi Broom is director of client engagement at Degreed, and a L&D leader with 20+ years of experience, including time at Citi and Anthem. Her expertise lies in delivering complex global solutions with impact, including learning technology strategy, change management, and realizing value through skills. A true promoter of lifelong learning and skill growth, Kristi is a mentor for MNCAPS, a program that fully immerses students in a professional culture while receiving high school and college credit.

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