Minding the Talent Gaps

Anyone who has been to London, or at least seen pictures of it, will no doubt be familiar with the ubiquitous signs telling mass transit commuters to mind the gap. While intended to avoid stepping into the space between the railway and platform, this simple phrase applies more and more to employers. Only in this instance, the gaps that need to be minded are the vacancies in the leadership pipeline. And if those gaps aren’t filled, the company’s productivity, revenue and reputation will plummet.

To mind the gap successfully, you need to rethink current leadership development strategies. Many of today’s current leaders came of age under the “command-and-control” model. They were told what to do – and did it. But the changing face of the workforce – driven by millennials – means that a new approach is needed. And as companies lose their most experienced leaders due to the mass baby boomer migration toward retirement, a new approach to fill those gaps is needed. Now.

So, what’s the solution? First of all, you’ll need to throw out the old-fashioned, one-size fits all approach to leadership development. Since each employee is different, how good could a strategy where they all receive the same training possibly be? The right approach should take into account the factors that make your employees unique and work to build up their strengths and provide support in the areas where they can improve. But the development program shouldn’t stop there. Consider the following steps to improve the training function and create the next generation of great leaders:

Take the guesswork out of development: To provide targeted training, you’ll need to look far beneath the surface to learn what employees do well and where they can use some help. The answer? Assessment testing. In-depth assessments will highlight their unique strengths and areas for development, helping you create a development plan that best suits individual needs.

Keep employees in the know: To really engage employees and build strong alignment between company goals, employees should know about the available career paths within the company. Not only does this help to close the talent gaps, but it also engages employees from the beginning, letting them know that they can achieve great things by staying with the company.

Give them different ways to learn: As no two employees are alike, the same holds true with how individuals learn. While the classroom setting is still effective, many employees may learn best on their own, or by shadowing a more experienced colleague. Offering different ways to learn, by way of mobile learning solutions, job rotation programs and mentorships can address the unique learning needs of each employee.

As talent gaps continue to widen, your company needs to act now. Thinking about the leadership and skills needed for the future today will not only ensure  full alignment between your talent and company goals, but it will also build a strong workforce of engaged employees eager to do what they can to succeed. To learn more about how your organization can build the skills needed for the future, check out our white paper, Lead Me: Mind the [Talent] Gap.

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