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Talent Management

Best Talent Development Strategies to Explore in 2021

One Minute Takeaway

  • Performance management is about the past; talent development focuses on the future
  • Employees prefer talent development over annual performance reviews
  • Executive coaching, OKRs and continuous feedback all help to develop employees

Did you know there is a major difference between talent development and performance management? If your leaders are only trained to manage employee performance after the fact, they may be robbing your team of opportunities to improve.

Performance management is everything a company does to track and improve how effectively an employee does their job. It usually involves giving feedback on performance at an annual review. A talent development program, on the other hand, is designed to help employees build knowledge, abilities and a skillset to achieve their potential.

Talent Development Strategies

When done right, talent development retains high performers resulting in a highly successful, sustainable organization that consistently meets its strategic goals and objectives.

And, employees prefer it. While 62% of employees feel blindsided by reviews, 94% of employees say they’d stay with a company longer if that company is invested in helping them learn (CNBC). But, talent development doesn’t happen by accident.

Instituting a talent development program is much different than instituting a performance management program. Instead of checking boxes or completing forms, leaders are required to ask more questions, connect employees’ personal career goals with company objectives and help design a path for success.

Fortunately, there are talent development best practices you can incorporate immediately.

Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is the method of connecting experienced coaches with employees or leadership candidates to help them maximize their potential. It’s one of the fastest ways to achieve talent development goals because of its focus on accountability. In an ideal coaching scenario, an employee is empowered to act while being supported, instead of being chastised for ‘getting it wrong.’ If you are considering adding executive coaching to your arsenal:

  1. Align leadership — Ensure all participants are aligned on goals, the selection criteria and timing.
  2. Train coaches – Not every leader is a coach. An external trainer may be best to train coaches and design a program that meets your organization’s goals.
  3. Measure – Set goals for the program and measure against them. Is succession planning most important? Is there a skills gap?

Continuous Feedback

High-performing companies often have a culture of continuous development, where managers give employees regular, future-focused feedback tied to measurable goals. Continuous feedback also increases trust, collaboration and innovation. Talent development programs are most successful when employees and supervisors work together to align on goals and drive better performance.

Here are some methods to transform your organization from once-a-year conversations to a culture of continuous feedback.

  1. One-on-ones (1:1s) – Weekly, biweekly or monthly 1:1s allow employees to get personal and specific. These meetings also enable managers and employees to confirm alignment on priorities.
  2. Quarterly performance reviews – Once a year is not enough. Infrequent reviews invite biases and rely too much on memory.
  3. Encourage transparency – Be transparent about your industry, competitors, key metrics and strategies. This empowers employees to make decisions and not just wait to be told what to do.
  4. 360 feedback – In a 360-feedback program, a manager collects the impressions of the people who interact with the employee. This helps managers shape a well-rounded and balanced perspective of day-to-day performance.


OKRs — Objectives and Key Results


Objectives and key results (OKRs) is a goal-setting methodology in which an employee’s personal outcomes are matched with the organization’s objectives. Performance is tracked with ambitious, but measurable, goals. OKRs encourage accountability in every step of achieving success by using outcomes instead of tasks as a driver. This method also helps engage employees by clearly showing them where the company is heading and how you want to get there.

Remember, the focus of talent development is about the future of what’s possible for the employee within the organization. Evaluating what happened after the fact often leaves employees with more challenges than opportunities. If you’re looking for ways to create a new talent development program or automate an existing one, consider Paycor Talent Development.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor Talent Development helps leaders:

  • Create a Culture of Continuous Development: Automated workflows make coaching and feedback easy and organic. You also get data to help you make decisions about compensation, promotion and succession planning.
  • Maintain an Ongoing Conversation: 1:1s are more manageable with customizable, preloaded templates. You can build coaching sessions with your employees to maximize your time together. This keeps everyone focused and accountable.
  • Improve the Communication Loop: The feedback tool improves the communication loop between peers, teams and the company as a whole.
  • Track Goals, Objectives and Key Results: Our platform provides a visual representation of how your individual, team and organizational objectives are connected. With it, you can align your workforce to your company’s top priorities.
  • Inspire Employees to Achieve Results: Aggregating data about an employee’s performance no longer relies on memory. When it’s time to review performance, you can pull data from 1:1s and compare results against historical performance.