Many line managers have a misguided view about their role in developing their organisation’s talent.   They see this as a responsibility that sits with HR and in doing so become blinkered to the vital role they have to play.

In today’s global marketplace, it is not enough to recruit someone who will fit the job and then simply ‘leave them to it’.  Organisations have to continually change, develop and evolve and as a consequence their staff do too.  Line managers therefore have two key responsibilities in this, one is to continually learn and develop themselves but the other is to develop their staff and in particular the organisation’s talent.

But what does this responsibility for developing your talent mean in practice?  The following are some suggestions on how to make the most out of your human assets.

  1. Start by asking yourself, who are the talented people in your team?  Do they have the potential to take on a broader or more senior role?  Might they even have the potential to take on a significant leadership role in the next 10 years?
  2. However, having potential is not enough – your talent must also have the will and ambition to do more.  It is therefore important to find out what they want from their career.  Do they have the desire to take on a broader role as well as the responsibilities that go with it?  Does this mean that they need to move location or even country?  Having these types of conversations will give you an understanding of where they are headed.
  3. Be clear with your talent about what it is they need to learn to take on the next level of responsibility.  Also don’t just assume that they should work on their weaknesses, ask yourself the following question – ‘what is it that will add the greatest value to their performance?’
  4. Provide ‘on the job’ opportunities for your talent to flourish.  Generally people will raise their performance to what is being requested of them.  If you never ask someone to step outside their comfort zone you will never find out!
  5. Don’t assume that going on a management training course is the answer to all your talent’s development needs.  Provide a range of options to help your talent learn and develop different skills and behaviours.  For example would they benefit from external coaching, or a mentor from inside the organisation.  What projects do you have lined up that they could lead, or are there secondment opportunities in other areas of the business?
  6. Don’t do it all for them either!  Testing an individual’s initiative is a great indicator of potential so provide opportunities for self direction, learning and responsibility.
  7. If you decide on investing in a management training programme, make sure you are clear about the objectives and outcomes from the training and development. Ask yourself, ‘What is it that I want to see done differently from this person or group of people?’ In this way it is possible to monitor the impact of training on individual performance and also on your department’s performance.

Ultimately the success of your business resides in the abilities and motivation of all members of staff from the shop floor to the board room and line managers have a key role to play in identifying and developing talent.  Surely, the development of your talent is far too an important business issue to be left to the training and HR specialists?