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ATD Blog

The Talent Development Capability Model Is Here

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Over the past several weeks, ATD has shared details about the new standard for talent development professionals. Built on comprehensive research into the role of TD professionals, the Talent Development Capability Model outlines what those working in talent development need to know and do to be successful.

While previous research helped develop a competency model framework, the focus of ATD’s new study has been how to help talent development professionals build capability so they can effectively perform their work today and prepare for challenges they’ll face in the future. Competence refers to a person’s current state and having the knowledge and skills necessary to perform a job. Capability is about integrating knowledge and skills and adapting and flexing to meet future needs. Shifting from a competency model to a capability model signals to talent development professionals that they must be agile and committed to continual development to successfully create, innovate, lead, and manage change.

The new model creates a blueprint for impact for talent development professionals. It has categorized the knowledge and skills talent development professionals need into three domains of practice—Developing Personal Capability, Building Professional Capability, and Impacting Organizational Capability—with no hierarchy among these domains. The three domains are then further divided into 23 capability areas that include the knowledge and skill statements.

The future of work requires more from talent development professionals, and this new model will help create professional development pathways that will support talent development professionals as they leverage their interpersonal skills with their professional expertise to work as true business partner to help achieve organizational goals. This blend of knowledge and skills will be essential to successful performance.

ATD has built an interactive website ( to help you explore each of these areas and see how they are interconnected. A self-assessment tool is built into the interactive model to help guide your growth and development. You can then connect directly to ATD resources, such as books, courses, TD at Work issues, job aids, and more, which can help you develop the skills you need to advance.

How Can Individuals Use the Model?

Log in and explore the model. You can review each of the knowledge and skill statements within the model, rating your proficiency on a scale of one to five. A rating key is included. These ratings will roll up into a score for each capability and each domain. Your proficiency scores for each capability area will give you a sense of what level of knowledge or skills gap you may have in TD. This will help you identify and prioritize areas for further development.


It is important to remember that many jobs may have an emphasis in only some parts of the model. The model can be personalized, so you can determine which areas are best to focus on for your professional development. Lower scores in a domain, capability, or statement indicate a topic where you have the opportunity for growth.
ATD has made it easy for you to identify resources to build and develop your knowledge and skill. Embedded in each capability is a direct link to ATD materials tied to that content area. These resources will continue to be updated over time.

How Can TD Teams Use the Model?

The model can be used as a template for what success looks like now and in the future. It can be leveraged to set performance expectations and incentivize staff to expand and enhance their skills to align with those expectations. The integration of personal, professional, and organizational impact capabilities makes it especially well-suited to communicate the talent development function’s strategic value to the organization.

Mangers can use the new model to help identify individual and team priorities for professional development and to identify team skill gaps that can help with identifying the best configuration of skills for your team. ATD has developed a job aid for teams so that individuals can perform a self-assessment as described above. Then, they can record their model self-assessment scores. Managers can average scores in each of the capabilities across their team to identify topics for focused development. Following the use of various resources, the team can assess themselves again to reset development priorities.


How Can Organizations Use the Model?

Having a highly skilled talent development team can help an organization be prepared for impending changes and challenges. The Talent Development Capability Model can be useful framework for senior leaders because it provides insight into the range of functions talent development performs in the organization. It outlines how professionals serving in those roles can add significant value to the organization through their work in fostering learning, improving performance, and supporting the organization through change.

Leaders can use the model to support discussions about the value of upskilling the TD team by demonstrating the link between talent development and organization performance. When TD professionals are focused on the future needs of the organization and being partners in creating that strategy, learners and the organization both win.

The new standard set through the Talent Development Capability Model helps illustrate that there is no role better positioned than that of the talent development profession to prepare organizations for the future. The model can serve an informational role to highlight what is most needed among TD professionals now and into the future. But its greatest value stems from its potential application—for individuals and organizations to put themselves in the center of the model and use it as a blueprint for impact.

About the Author

As director of credentialing for the Association of Talent Development (ATD), Morgean Hirt has more than 25 years of experience in personnel certification and accreditation across a variety of professions. She provides strategic leadership and technical expertise in developing and implementing credentialing programs, focusing on test development, policy and standards development, program audits, strategic planning, and ANSI/ISO 17024 and NCCA accreditation. Believing that standards and certification enhance professionalism and credibility, Hirt has led a number of organizations through establishing industry standards for emerging professions, including clinical research, massage therapy, and mortgage brokering.

Prior to joining ATD, she served as an account executive at MetaCred, a boutique association management firm specializing in managing credentialing programs, and spent 12 years as president and CEO of Certified Fund Raising Executives International Credentialing Board, where she was responsible for establishing international support across six continents for a unified standard of fundraising practice. Hirt is also active with the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) and recently earned the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Certified Credentialing Professional (ICE-CCP) designation.

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Can you point me to the job aid for teams mentioned above? Also, is there a way to download or print out my report?
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Whenever I try to access the assessment page - nothing comes up. It just leads me to a blank white screen.
I have found that the page won't load (Displays blank white page) when I use Internet Explorer as my browser, but it does work fantastically when using Chrome. Hope that helps :)
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The best way to access the Model and the interactive features is to go to: and click on the "Access the Model" button. You will need to log in using your account details to access the assessment features.
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