Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aligning Talent Development with Organizational Objectives

One of the primary goals of most talent development programs is to ensure alignment with the overall goals and objectives of the organization. Although every organization is different, there are some simple ways of accomplishing this.

The first step is to understand senior management’s expectations. CEOs are focused on results, and laser-focused on the short list of things for which their board of directors holds them accountable. Therefore, one method for ensuring alignment of development is to identify exactly what factors the CEO is being measured and rewarded on, and then concentrate talent-development efforts in those areas. For example, if the CEO is measured and rewarded for increasing customer satisfaction, then talent development must demonstrate how improving customer service skills immediately impacts service ratings, and what each percentage point increase represents to the bottom line. If the CEO is rewarded for increasing sales revenue, then talent development must demonstrate how improving skills in the sales area dramatically increase overall sales. The impact can be demonstrated by using a control group to show how the talent development program makes an economic difference.

Some other ways to align talent development with corporate objectives include:

• Spending the development budget in direct proportion to priorities identified and ranked as most critical by senior managers
• Developing programs that are made available on a fee-for-service basis
• Identifying key business units and divisions in the organization and allocating more resources to those with the highest business impact
• Developing special programs for high-impact jobs and key positions
Improving performance in areas that are off the CEO’s radar screen does little to improve the image and perceived value of talent development. However, it’s important to remember how frequently that radar screen can change. Organizational objectives shift almost as often as the business world changes. That said, it’s not enough to align development with corporate goals once a year. Ensuring alignment is a continuous process that requires at least one midyear review and adjustment point.

Talent development must remain agile and capable of providing just-in-time services as corporate needs change.

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