How do you nurture talent?

Flower with water droplets on
Nurturing talent is like watching the petals open on a flower
Image by Kprateek88 via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve recently seen a couple of people from past jobs flourish in roles in new organisations. In fact one of them is writing a blog on his new company’s website, where his previous role would never have allowed for this.

It got me thinking about why these people felt they needed to leave their jobs. Of course, everyone leaves their employer at some point and lots of factors influence that such as your team, the company culture, your day to day tasks etc. But a big factor is whether you feel you can develop in your position and if it’s moving your career in the right direction.

So as a manager I began to explore how you could nurture the talent you’ve already got in your team, so that they don’t feel they need to leave (yet) and you’re not left with a recruitment problem. These are my thoughts:

Ask the individuals in your team what their career goals are

If you don’t know their desired path, how can you support their journey?

Flex where possible

If you’re able to adapt team roles and you can explore the possibility of flexing boundaries, then this added level of responsibility or a newly required level of skill, can be the added ‘push’ your team members need to lift them up to the next stage in their career.

Provide as many opportunities for development as you can

Ambitious individuals, and even those who aren’t ‘ambitious’ but need a change, will relish the opportunity to try new things, work on different projects or work in a different environment. If you can’t provide the exact types of experiences they’re looking for, can you arrange a secondment or work shadowing opportunity within the wider business?

If you’re serious about nurturing talent then you’ll agree that it’s better to keep a good team member within the company but perhaps in a different team, then to lose them elsewhere altogether.

Encourage a learning process

Writing a career plan and setting short and long term targets can help focus the mind. If you’re providing additional experiences and flexing the role, it can be a good idea for this to be captured in a ‘lessons’ document or an informal diary.

Give feedback and get feedback from them

Nurture is about giving constructive feedback and encouraging this as a multi-way process. Giving and receiving feedback ties back to looking at this as a learning experience- it’s what the individual does with the feedback they receive that will determine whether their raw talent is developed or not.

Review their goals with them and help set new ones

Nurturing your team is a long term investment and career goals may change over time. It’s important to keep focussed on what is desired so it can be achieved.

Accept that when the time is right it’s OK for them to move on

In my opinion, the best thing to do is to support your team when they’re ready to leave, so they’ll do so feeling happy.

What’s your experience of nurturing talent? 


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