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August 13, 2021


4 min read

3 reasons why your talent development plan is falling short

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Hiring, identifying and growing high-potential employees is a complex process with many moving parts — but the payoff is well worth the effort. And while many organizations consider talent development to be a top priority, implementing effective and scalable programs is still a considerable challenge. 

Whether it’s lack of employee awareness or low adoption rates, there are a variety of reasons why many talent development initiatives fail to drive results. Let’s break down the common reasons why talent development programs fail and share steps you can take towards optimizing your strategy to overcome these challenges.


What is a talent development plan?

Individualized talent development plans are designed to help employees develop the skills needed to grow within an organization. It’s a combination of technology, training, education, internal support systems and other elements within a corporate learning ecosystem that provide your staff with the resources they need in order to thrive.


3 reasons why talent development plans fail

Talent development is a long, often nonlinear process that’s unique to each individual employee and business. So while it’s not possible to generalize and point to just one reason why your development efforts may be ineffective, there are a number of factors worth taking into consideration: 


  • Lack of awareness among employees
    Before employees can take advantage of development opportunities, they have to know about them. Take a look at your existing L&D programs and evaluate what communication channels you’re leveraging to get the word out. Is email effective at reaching your employee base? Have you tried physical flyers or handouts that are placed around the workplace? Are there other channels that you’re not currently testing?Additionally, people managers are an invaluable resource for promotion awareness around L&D programs. Employees should feel comfortable turning to their managers for questions about career advancement and upskilling. Similarly, managers should encourage discussions around development opportunities when setting goals with their direct reports.


  • Focusing on external talent acquisition
    While sometimes necessary, sourcing job candidates from outside the company — especially for leadership positions — has a bevy of hidden costs, including retention loss as well as increased expenditure during the hiring and training process.

    When possible, organizations should prioritize investing in the development of internal employees. This allows you to fill skill gaps and address talent needs as they arise, with little additional cost to your organization. Taking this approach also contributes positively to company culture, keeps employees engaged and boosts personal investment in the success of the business.


  • Talent development opportunities are inaccessible
    Many traditional L&D programs were built without accessibility in mind. For example, tuition reimbursement programs typically require upfront payment from the employee. This can be a major financial burden that deters employees from participating. 

    Accessibility in talent development is crucial to providing equitable opportunities for all of your promotable employees. Utilize mentorships, self-guided learning resources, collaborative career-mapping, onsite workshops as well as degree and certificate opportunities to provide workers with a wide selection of possibilities that fit their unique needs and circumstances.



How to rethink your talent development plan

Now that you’re familiar with reasons why your talent development efforts may be ineffective, here are a few ideas to help you optimize your strategy: 


  • Align employee development efforts with company goals
    Learning and development shouldn’t exist in a silo. After all, the success of your people is vital to the success of the business overall. Consider your most important company goals. Then, consider what skills, resources and talent is required to reach those goals. Once you’re able to evaluate your people strategy through this lens, you’re able to see how your efforts feed into greater business outcomes (if at all).


  • Integrate workforce education into your talent development roadmap
    Continued education is vital to the ongoing development of your workforce. But as we’ve discussed previously, many traditional education programs fail to engage the modern employee or deliver business value.

    Consider investing in a comprehensive workforce education program — one that eliminates the burden of upfront costs for the learner, supplies them with the learning options needed to develop in-demand skills and delivers a return-on-investment.


  • Build change and disruption into your plan
    Change is inevitable. Instead of focusing on retroactive skills gap assessments, start to shift your mindset to think proactively about what skills are needed to help your workforce succeed in the future. With this approach, you’re able to develop learning initiatives that empower your people with the skills they need to stay ahead of disruption.


  • Make data-driven adjustments
    Measuring the impact of L&D isn’t always straightforward. However, it’s still critically important to track key talent development metrics and use the data you have to guide your decision-making. Observing the success or failure of your talent development efforts allows you to address problems quickly and efficiently or analyze successes to further improve performance in the future. 

Although most organizations understand the value of talent development, they’re still relying on dated strategies that don’t help the employees or the business. Now that you’re familiar with reasons why your existing talent development plan may be ineffective, it’s time to take action on solidifying a new plan that’s going to move your business and people forward.

Ready to take the next step towards a stronger workforce? Download our free step-by-step guide on how to rapidly reskill your workforce.