Connections Point Capabilities

Unleash Your Talent Development Potential

Friday, May 22, 2020

ATD's Talent Development Capability Model guides talent development professionals in growing as well as in helping others and their organizations do the same.

Merriam-Webster defines capability as a “feature or faculty capable of development: potentiality.”

What potentiality bodes is exactly the focus of the Association for Talent Development’s Talent Development Capability Model. It’s about talent development professionals reaching their own potential, helping learners reach theirs, and enabling an organization to attain its vision and mission. The Capability Model is the framework that outlines for practitioners what they need to know and be able to do to develop themselves, others, and their organizations.

As we’ve seen in recent months, companies, the workforce, and talent professionals need—first and foremost—to be agile and resilient in addressing the challenges we face today and those we’ll need to manage tomorrow. In contrast to ATD’s former Competency Model, which was about the current state of skills, the Capability Model is about integrating knowledge and skills and adapting and flexing to meet future needs.

As Morgean Hirt, ATD’s director of credentialing, explains in her TD magazine article, “Competency Out, Capability In,” for organizations to be successful today and in the future, TD practitioners will need to be true business partners. “That’s why the new Talent Development Capability Model elevates the TD function to the level of a key contributor to an organizations’ success,” Hirt writes. “This new standard for the field will help prepare TD professionals for the future of work by broadening the scope of knowledge and skills that will make them effective.”

No matter where you are in the talent development field—just starting out or seasoned or even if you’re interested in getting into the field but aren’t sure where you stand on what is required—the Talent Development Capability Model can help you identify your development needs and map out a personalized learning pathway. The personal, professional, and organizational areas cover a span of 23 capabilities, including communication, project management, compliance and ethical behavior, learning sciences, technology application, coaching, business insight, performance improvement, and data and analytics.


The capabilities are grouped into three categories:

  • Personal capabilities are the foundational or enabling abilities all working professionals should possess to be effective in the business world. These largely interpersonal skills, often called soft skills, are needed to build effective organizational or team culture, trust, and engagement.
  • Professional capabilities encapsulate the knowledge and skills talent development professionals should possess to be effective in their roles of creating the processes, systems, and frameworks that foster learning, maximize individual performance, and develop employees’ capacity and potential.
  • Organizational capabilities represent the knowledge, skills, and abilities that professionals need to ensure talent development is a primary mechanism driving organizational performance, productivity, and operational results.

TD professionals can complete a self-assessment, then generate a report that outlines their areas of strengths and their skills gaps. As of this writing, more than 4,300 TD practitioners have taken the self-assessment. Users rate their proficiency of a capability on a scale of 1 to 5. A one-pager gives TD professionals a quick template to prioritize their areas for growth and to see how they’ve advanced in their development.

To grow their skills, users can develop a personalized learning plan to track their progress. During the Virtual Conference, you can participate in the “Leveraging the Talent Development Capability Model for Growth” session, which Hirt will lead, and learn more about the new personalized learning plan feature that you and your teams can use to design a path for growth and development.


ATD likewise offers recommendations of tools TD practitioners can use—such as web casts, research papers, courses, videos, and more to help close identified gaps. Academic institutions and professional groups can use the Capability Model to benchmark and align their curriculums with the required TD capabilities.

In addition to the self-assessment and interactive model, practitioners can learn more from these in-depth resources:

  • TD Body of Knowledge. The TDBoK, as it is called, offers a deep dive into the concepts within the Talent Development Capability Model. The first-of-its-kind resource was developed with more than 60 subject matter expert contributors and incorporates curated perspectives from thousands of publications.
  • Capabilities for Talent Development. This book draws from the research behind the model and includes application tips for individuals, educators, and organizations as well as interviews with thought leaders who discuss what lies ahead for the TD field.

ATD developed the Capability Model through extensive research, including review of literature, conversations with expert practitioners, discussions among an advisory group, and a survey of practitioners that garnered the largest-ever response rate.

The 11 learning tracks at the ATD Virtual Conference map to the areas of the Talent Development Capability Model and help empower TD professionals’ growth.

Share your ATD Virtual Conference experience on social media. #ATDVirtualConference

About the Author

Connection Point is the daily news source written by ATD staff for the ATD Virtual Conference, relaying news, session coverage, and other updates.

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