TAFEP Hero 2023 June
human resources online

Speak up for career development

Rather than beating about the bush, leaders have to be able to give real and relevant feedback using the framework for talent conversations, provided here, along with a handy checklist.

Your organisation has invested a significant amount of time and dollars in developing high-potential talent, only to be shocked when they suddenly leave the organisation for another opportunity. Sound familiar?

As an HR leader, you’re intensely involved in talent management processes around individual and organisational capabilities, development and career success.

Buoyed partly by the rise of today’s dominant workforce who isn’t afraid to express dissatisfaction with just one annual assessment, companies such as Accenture, General Electric, and Maybank have ditched the traditional annual performance review in favour of more frequent, ongoing, two-way check-ins of performance; and you are probably considering a more evolved system of performance management as well.

If your company is experimenting with new ways to evaluate talent, it is crucial for you to ensure managers at all levels are able to give feedback and hold talent conversations well. At its core, a talent conversation is a manager-employee discussion, where talent development becomes real, where commitment and engagement can be built, and where managers have the opportunity to accelerate development and results.

Most importantly, a talent conversation is not done to someone, but with someone.

And, when done correctly, talented employees will know where they stand in the organisation now and their possibilities for the future – thus, increasing their levels of engagement and commitment.


Investing in your team’s career

At this point it may be helpful to think about someone with whom you need to have a talent conversation in the near future. Keep this person in mind as you go about preparing for the talent conversation using the ACS model – assess, support, and challenge.


In preparing for a talent conversation, the first step for you as a manager is to begin pulling together all of the data and information you have about the person you will be talking with. A good way to accomplish both of these goals is by creating a talent assessment summary. Use the questions provided in Figure 2 to gain a clear picture of the current reality and the future development for the person you are working with.


When challenging the employee, leaders should focus on the next steps in their performance and development. These next steps should be based on the assessment you just completed as well as on what you hear during the actual talent conversation. Challenging next steps that take people out of their comfort zones will increase the likelihood of learning and change, with some ideas provided in Figure 2.


A key element of support is finding out what motivates the individual to take on the developmental and performance actions that you determine to be the next steps. Reflect on what needs to happen to keep the person motivated and inspired to achieve his or her goals, using the pointers in Figure 2.

A last bit of preparation leaders can do before entering a talent conversation is to reflect on themselves and their ability and effectiveness at developing others. When in doubt, do not hesitate to seek feedback from others.

From a business standpoint, talent conversations are a low-cost, high-return scenario for leveraging human capital assets and creating a culture of talent sustainability.

From a HR standpoint they provide an opportunity for relationship building and engaging talent. So do them right, and do them well – your employees and organisation will thank you for it.

Reference / Talent conversations: What they are, why they're crucial, and how to do them right, by Roland Smith and Michael Campbell. The Center for Creative Leadership.

[READ MORE] Future-ready toolkit: CHRO 3.0 Brought to you by Center for Creative Leadership and Human Resources

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