Talent Development: Strategy and Steps

Talent Development - Toolshero

Talent development: This article explains talent development in a practical way. The article begins with a definition of the term, followed by an explanation of the benefits of effective talent development programs. You can also read how you can apply two different talent development strategies in a detailed step-by-step plan. Enjoy reading!

What is talent development?

Talents have always been coveted assets in business. Organizations seek talents who excel at what they do to thrive and flourish in the highly competitive market environment.

Talents are exceptional individuals who possess certain skills and potentials that enable companies to innovate, increase productivity and contribute to overall organizational success.

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Recognizing the value of attracting and retaining these talents is therefore crucial.

Organizations therefore invest in talent management development programs to unlock the potential of their employees. This allows them to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage while employees develop themselves: win-win.

The definition of Talent Development

Talent development refers to the strategic and systematic approach to identifying, attracting, developing and retaining high-potential individuals in organizations. It includes a wide range of activities, such as:

  • Training and education of employees
  • Employee mentoring
  • Coaching employees
  • Career development
  • Training and managing successors

Read more about these activities in the step-by-step plans in this article for setting up a talent development program.

The main purpose of talent development programs is to identify, develop and promote the potential and skills of talented individuals.

By providing a supportive and facilitating environment for their talents, organizations can unlock the maximum potential of their workforce.

Why Talent Development?

Talent development offers several benefits to companies.

Diverse workforce through talent development

First, an effective talent development program helps companies build a diverse and skilled workforce. Diversity recruiting plays a vital role in building a strong and innovative workforce

By investing in the talents of their employees, companies can increase their capital, knowledge and expertise and thus compete from a stronger position. It also fosters a culture of learning and development, which is critical to long-term success.


Talent development contributes to employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees are given the opportunity to develop their talents, they will feel more valued and supported by the company.

This benefits their motivation and involvement. Employees who see that they are being invested in are more loyal to the organization and are less likely to leave the company.

Innovation through talent development

Talent development also contributes to a culture of innovation and creativity. As employees expand their skills and knowledge, they are better able to generate new ideas, think critically and contribute to the success of the organization.

By encouraging learning and development and providing platforms for collaboration, companies can tap into the source of creativity that exists in their workforce.


Talent development programs enable organizations to capitalize on succession planning and leadership development. By identifying and retaining high-potential individuals, companies can build a strong pipeline of future leaders.

This proactive approach ensures a smooth transition of leaders across the organizations and mitigates the risks associated with sudden departures. It ensures continuity in strategic decision-making.

Below you can read about different strategies you can apply to start an effective talent development program and improve talent development at your organization.

Talent Development Strategy 1: identify and nurture employees with high potential

Identifying and nurturing high-potential employees and including and coaching them in talent programs is an effective business strategy for developing talent and retaining these valuable employees.

Here are practical steps you can take to implement this strategy:

Step 1: observe and identify

Stay in regular contact with your employees and observe their performance, skills and potential.

Identify and remember the employees who consistently excel, show a strong motivation and demonstrate leadership skills.

Step 2: offer growth opportunities

Create opportunities for the employees who meet the above criteria to further develop their skills and take on challenging tasks.

Give them responsibilities that stimulate growth and strengthen leadership skills.

Step 3: implement mentoring programs

Assign experienced and successful leaders within your organization as mentors to these high-potential employees, as part of their talent management.

This offers them the opportunity to learn from the experience and knowledge of others and enables them to further develop and refine their skills and talents.

Step 4: offer targeted coaching and feedback

Provide regular coaching sessions where you guide the talents and provide valuable feedback to promote their growth. Encourage their professional development and help them identify and address any weaknesses.

Step 5: career development and growth plans

Collaborate with high-potential employees to understand and support their medium and long term goals.

Offer clear career development plans and identify growth paths within your organization to show them there are opportunities to advance.

It is important that they are offered perspective. This reduces the chance of employees leaving the organization.

Step 6: recognition and reward

Appreciate the effort and performance of high-potential employees through recognition and rewards.

This can range from public recognition within the organization to financial bonuses or other appropriate incentives.

Step 7: employee engagement and retention

Make sure high-potential employees feel valued and involved.

Offer them challenging projects, growth opportunities and a stimulating work environment.

Listen to their needs and make sure they feel supported in their professional development.

By applying this talent development strategy, you can identify high-potential employees, support and coach them in their talent development, and help them grow throughout their career.

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Talent Development Strategy 2: assess and address skill gaps for effective talent development

To successfully develop talent within an organization, it is essential to identify and effectively address skill gaps. Here are some practical steps to help with that:

Step 1: conduct a thorough skills assessment

Evaluate the current capabilities of the workforce and identify areas where skill gaps exist.

This is best done through performance reviews, surveys, and conversations with managers and employees.

Step 2: prioritize critical skill gaps

Determine which skills are most important to the success of the organization. Focus on those areas where the deficiencies have the greatest impact on performance and productivity.

Step 3: provide targeted training and development

Develop tailored training programs or initiatives to bridge identified skills gaps.

This may include workshops, online courses, certifications, or mentorship programs. Make sure the training is practical, relevant and in line with the specific needs of the employees. You may also include on the job learning.

Step 4: encourage continuous learning

Foster a culture of learning and growth by promoting self-directed learning and providing skill development resources..

Encourage employees to take on new challenges, participate in interdisciplinary projects, and share knowledge and best practices.

Step 5: set individual developmental goals

Work with each employee to establish personal development goals aimed at addressing their specific skill gaps.

These goals must be measurable, achievable and in line with the objectives of the organization (SMART goals). Review these goals regularly to track progress.

Step 6: offer coaching and support for talent development

Train managers to become effective coaches who provide guidance and support to employees in their skill development.

Encourage regular feedback and create mentorship opportunities.

Step 7: evaluate and adjust the talent development activities

Continuously assess the impact of talent development efforts. Gather feedback from employees and managers, track improvements in performance, and adjust your strategies as needed. Review and update your skills assessment regularly to ensure continued relevance. By implementing these practical steps, you can proactively address skill shortages within your organization and create a culture of continuous learning and development.

The role of Human Resources in talent development

Human Resources (HR) can help identify high-potential employees by thoroughly reviewing employee records and through performance management. Examples include:

  • Performance reviews
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Project results
  • Other relevant information

But HR can support you in even more ways:

Design and execution

HR professionals can work with relevant stakeholders to design and implement employee development programs that align with the organizational goals.

They can identify training needs, determine appropriate learning methodologies and create development plans tailored to individual employees or specific groups.

Training needs assessment

HR can conduct training needs assessments to identify skill and knowledge gaps within the organization.

This assessment helps identify areas where employees need development and provides valuable insights for designing targeted training programs.

Training delivery and facilitation

HR can organize and deliver training sessions or collaborate with external training providers. They may also facilitate workshops, seminars or webinars to ensure employees have access to the necessary resources and learning opportunities for skill development.

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about talent development? Do you think talent development is important for the success of an organization? Are you or have you been included in a program? What role do you think these programs play in attracting and retaining talent in the organization? Do you have tips or comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Caplan, J. (2013). Strategic talent development: develop and engage all your people for business success. Kogan Page Publishers.
  2. Pruis, E. (2011). The five key principles for talent development. Industrial and commercial training, 43(4), 206-216.
  3. Unknown. (2024). HubSpot’s Guide to Choosing a Recruitment CRM for Your Business. Retrieved 01/07/2024 from HubSpot: https://www.hubspot.com/products/crm/recruiting.
  4. Schooley, C., More, C., & Vitti, R. (2010). Drive employee talent development through business mentoring programs. Cambridge: Forrester Researcher Inc.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2021). Talent Development. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/human-resources/talent-development/

Original publication date: 07/06/2023 | Last update: 04/26/2024

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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