We’ve said here before that developing talent is like working in a garden. Once you plant the seeds it takes time for roots to sprout—and healthy plants only blossom after you carefully tend to the garden each day.
It’s a particularly apt metaphor, because—just as with talent development—doing the little things early leads to a healthy result later. Doing the wrong things can threaten the vitality, and viability, of both your garden and your talent pool.
And sadly, just as novice gardeners tend to make errors, organizations often make the same kinds of mistakes when developing their employees.
Here are nine common mistakes you can avoid to keep from sabotaging your talent development program.
1. Not offering feedback
Improving performance is impossible without detailed feedback. People are often blind to their own weaknesses and need an outside assessment to understand what direction they need to travel to grow and develop. Failure to provide feedback robs your best people of the chance to meet their full potential.
2. Failing to define goals
Working toward a specific set of goals gives purpose to employees and leaders alike. When people work without goals, they can’t prioritize their tasks effectively and they lack productivity.
3. Taking recruitment shortcuts
Filling a vacant role after a surface-level recruitment process can bring the wrong people into your organization. Unless you do your homework ahead of time (with things like a comprehensive employee assessment) you’ll end up wasting time and resources on a dead-end candidate.
4. Misunderstanding motivation
Many leaders assume employees only care about money. This isn’t the case. Some people seek a healthy work/life balance. Others are fueled by achievement. It’s important to dig deeper and find out what makes each employee tick.
5. Promoting because of technical skills
The skills required to do a job well are not always the same skills that contribute to potential. Perform a complete assessment on each employee to identify strengths and gaps and then provide development opportunities.
6. Not prioritizing development on all levels
Development opportunities shouldn’t be just for newer employees. Even senior leaders need to grow and evolve in their roles. Everyone in your company needs to commit to regular training and development.
7. Being a poor role model
True leaders embrace the principles they teach to the people they lead. Shaping behaviors and attitudes in a positive way starts with actions. If you’re a good role model, you can help your employees see what it takes to be effective.
8. Treating talent development as an “event”
Building leaders is more than a one-time activity. Talent development works best when classroom concepts are put into practice—because learning typically requires applying what you learn to real-life situations.
9. Not doing a complete assessment
You can’t identify leadership potential without putting together assessments built on comprehensive data. Assessments will help you tailor training to exactly what people need to become better.
Do you make these same mistakes?
Developing your employees (not to mention your company’s future leaders) requires taking the right steps. Avoiding mistakes in talent development can put you ahead of the game—and help you identify, cultivate and retain true leadership talent.