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Using ATD's Capability Model to Develop Your TD Team


Fri Aug 14 2020

Using ATD's Capability Model to Develop Your TD Team

The Talent Development Capability Model provides a basis for our team to identify functional expertise strengths and gaps. We try to model professional development, identifying what is needed for the current or future steps and determining how to best achieve those needs. For our talent development team members, the ATD Capability Model provides a great starting point during their onboarding orientation. The model is built on three categories:

These categories link well to how you understand yourself as well as how you affect your team and how you can affect the greater organization. Because of how the model is laid out, we can bring in people who have no knowledge on talent development, and they can quickly understand and apply the model. Therefore, it is also self-development that people can do primarily on their own and learn about how people grow through experiencing their own development. For us, that means that they are more able to have good conversations with other teams about personal and professional development and will have a clear personal example to draw from.


To bring this to life, let’s look at a couple of specific examples. The first is a new team member who is taking a two- to three-year assignment with our team to develop in the area of intercultural awareness, influencing others, and breadth of understanding of the global business. Mark has worked in sales as a team member and team leader and wants to work his way into an executive management position at the company. Prior to this role, he has always worked with a focus on his or his team’s results. Mark joined my team as an internal consultant and will soon be working autonomously with other departments. To identify where he is already strong, I asked him to review the three categories and complete the self-assessment. After each self-assessment, we look at the results.

Mark’s results show that he is strong in lifelong learning as well as compliance and ethical behavior. However, he shows that he has significant gaps in collaboration and leadership and cultural awareness and inclusion. These are critical items for internal consultants, so we set some development targets around integrating and synthesizing others’ viewpoints to build alignment of diverse perspectives and knowledge of conflict management techniques. We continue to look at the other two categories because Mark is focused on rapid improvement and wants to see which areas he may encounter challenges with.

In the second example, Janelle came in as a university graduate to a learning architect role. She works as part of a collaboration team co-creating content with others on the design team. Janelle brings a lot of knowledge but not a lot of application since she is a recent graduate. Therefore, her theoretical knowledge is high, but she is unable to score the skill questions as well since she has not had as many opportunities to see those in action. In this case we work through the questions together to discuss some of her university projects to see if there are examples that she can use to self-assess. We also leave several questions open, but it provides us with some ideas of which projects she could focus upon to be able to identify development areas. One area that she was specifically interested in was how to select and align delivery options and media when developing a learning solution. We pair her with one of our more experienced team members who has worked on various projects, which lets us use the strength of the experienced team member in functional expertise as well as her ability to coach and develop others.

Another use we have found for the ATD Capability Model is for our experienced team members to continue to reflect on their skillsets. For example, we may have someone who is primarily working as a graphic designer but wants to develop a broad view of the department’s goals. By going through the model, she can better self-educate about what her peer team members are doing and what skills that takes. Or for myself, I revisit the model periodically to evaluate where I could further develop or to consider areas that are changing and therefore my skill level needs re-evaluated. Overall, the ATD Capability Model allows people in all talent development roles, at all levels, to self-assess and have more effective coaching and development conversations.

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