Talent development – whose responsibility?

Let’s assume that your organisation has completed a training needs analysis, drawn up a talent development strategy, and agreed a budget. Now you are looking to identify training providers and suitable programmes.

But before you put any programmes in place, can I ask you just a few questions about responsibility? Namely, responsibility for funding for development programmes, responsibility for progressing individual careers and responsibility for maximising learning and skills through attending development programmes.

Employers continue to identify how they want staff to develop, fund individuals’ development, provide paid time off and identify career progression opportunities for the staff they cherish and nurture – all whilst keeping their fingers crossed that the lure of a development programme and future career progression might just stop their talented employee from seeking pastures new.

So if you asked each member of staff in your organisation where the ultimate responsibility for their development and career progression lies, what responses would you get?

I once asked this question to a roomful of 120 professional, highly skilled staff in a corporate headquarters. The choices I gave them were: 100% individual responsibility; 50/50 shared responsibility; or 100% the responsibility of the employer. The majority felt it was a 50/50 responsibility, but what stunned me was that a significant number said it was entirely the responsibility of their manager and employer.

Well paid and highly skilled guys and gals in their 30’s and 40’s have the distinct impression that their career development is in fact driven and managed by their employer.

And if this is the case, what impact will this have on your:

  • return on investment – i.e. will staff who do not feel personally responsible, value the training you provide as much as if they were paying for it themselves?
  • employee engagement i.e. might employee morale be adversely impacted if you ever removed or reduced spending in an area that staff feel you, the employer, are responsible for
  • ability to develop greater personal accountability i.e. will your  paternalistic approach to career development send mixed signals about the importance of demonstrating personal responsibility?
  • succession planning i.e. will you actually develop the leaders you need if, along the way, you are not obliging these future leaders to continually demonstrate personal responsibility.

And while you reflect on how many of your staff really do take personal responsibility for their own careers, let me throw in one final thought……… is it possible that you, along with many other organisations have a potential conflict between the younger generations coming through who seem to be demonstrating far more personal responsibility for their career development (both paying for and attending development activities outside of work) and the older generations in work who have a greater tendency to sit back and wait to be developed?

If you are one of those organisations seeing these generational differences in attitude towards responsibility for personal development, how do you reflect this in your current L&D strategy?

This blog was written by Helen Jamieson Director of Jaluch Ltd, a well known and widely respected HR consultancy operating across the UK

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