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Boosting Talent Development with Best Practices: finding inspiration in the Dutch Approach

23 mei 2011

Boosting Talent Development with Best Practices: finding inspirations in the Dutch Approach


The crusade for talent has proven to be highly resilient to our current economic downturn. The recession may be persistent, the scarcity of talented employees and managers remains. The demand for talented young recruits in the worldwide labour markets still outstrips what the university outflow is able to supply. If this is the case, does this imply that talent development is exempt from the tight scrutiny that all other HRD programs are under? Is there still unlimited budget available for all talent development programs? The good news is that there may still be budget, the bad news is, it might not be as much as we’ve grown accustomed to. There is a growing need for effective, sustainable and prudent programs: the question is “how?”

We have worked with clients in industry, services and government, ranging from companies such as ING Retail Netherlands, Philips Lighting, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Cargo, Perfetti van Melle (the Makers of Mentos) to the Amsterdam city council. From our past experience in the field, we have distilled, tested and evaluated 5 key talent development principles. In collaboration with our clients, we have extended the principles to 5 key decisions per principle. These 25 decisions will aid you in assessing or designing your own talent, leadership and career development trajectories.

Principle 1: Formulate a crystal clear talent policy
or: “What is talent?”

A crystal clear talent policy requires careful deliberation on the scope of talent development. Research shows that clearly targeted TD approaches (on high potentials or out-performers) work best for the short term (2-5 years). TD approaches that regard the entire organization as the existing talent pool, reap the highest business benefits in the longer run.

During my ASTD 2011 session I showed a wonderful video about my favorite sportsman: Shaun White. Please look at this video and ask yourself: “what does this tell you about what talent is?”

To summarize my point, please look at this Animoto video I made.

Principle 2: Perceive talent development as an integrated process
or: “What is the talent development process?”

The strongest Talent Development programs are the result of a coherent organizational Talent Management effort: from strategic resource planning, to recruitment and assessment, pipelining, career planning, career development, engagement, mentoring and coaching AND (lastly but not leastly) learning and development.

To illustrate this principle, I showed a pretty funny ad from Eichhof, a Swiss Beer brand. Please look at this video to get some inkling to what an integrated process might look like.

To summarize my point, please look at this Animoto video I made.

Principle 3: Fulfill a clear and present organizational need
or: “What should talent development lead to?”

The range of corporate challenges that could potentially underpin Talent Development may be highly diverse. Strong TD efforts are not only aware of the corporate challenges, but build their TD programs around them: if only because talents demand this foresight.

There is really no better video to illustrate this point than the video below. If you would be in Elop’s shoes, would you still invest in a talent development effort (in whatever shape of form) for any member of the Symbian team?

To summarize my point, please look at this Animoto video I made.

Principle 4: Offer mentoring by true role models
or: “Where are the role models?”

Mentoring is one way for talent to develop, benefiting from a one-on-one relationship with a more experienced leader or professional outside their chain of command. The ultimate goal being to enhance the talent’s organizational ‘know-how’ and business insight and to accelerate their development.

The video below blew me away, completely, when I saw it the first time. What would having this mentor mean for your basketball skills?

This Animoto video illustrates my point:

Principle 5: Harness the power of the talent pool
or: “What potential does the talent pool have to offer?”

Talents often feel underutilized in their tasks and assignments, primarily due to the fact that their daily activities claim all available time, effort and energy. Talents may offer their companies a huge and largely untapped cognitive surplus (Shirky, 2010) that could aid organizational development.

A simply amazing illustration on the power of teamwork and what it will allow talents to accomplish can be found below. Enjoy!

This Animoto video illustrates my point:

One Comment leave one →
  1. 1 juni 2011 21:05

    Excellent principles. Very recognisable as well, as i started a couple of months ago in a consultancy organisation and feel pressured already by an overbooked organizer.
    However, i would like to add one point to this list. This is ownership. In my experience, talent development programs become really succesfull when talents feel like they are in charge of their development. Anyway, inspiring blog!

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