The 7 Trends Reshaping Talent Development

The most effective talent development teams will respond to these trends by making transformational changes in how they shape their workforce.

Today’s talent development teams face a tough reality. Tried and true ways of doing business are being rapidly upended by new technologies, new competitors and sky-high customer expectations.

To respond and thrive, organizations need digitally savvy, future-fluent leaders who are agile, strategic, data-driven and resilient. And they need them now. That means it’s time to take a new look at talent development.

To better understand this changing landscape, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) recently surveyed hundreds of learning and development leaders from more than 65 countries. The results point to seven important trends — each of which requires us to rethink talent development.

Trend 1: Accidental Leaders

First-timers who fail: All-star contributors who excel in functional roles are often rewarded with promotions into leadership. But being a standout in an area of functional expertise doesn’t mean an individual has the skills to manage people. Without support, many of these first-time leaders may fail, derailing once-promising careers.

What you can do: Proactively identify the competencies first-time leaders need to succeed in your company and your market sector. Assess each new leader’s skills and tailor development programs appropriately.

Trend 2: Change Endurance

Overwhelming changes: Most of us don’t like change. Too much of it can cause stress and burnout. However, perpetual change is the new normal. Organizations that fail to adapt are simply going to be left behind.

What you can do: Help your team build its change endurance. Focus on mental habits, healthy lifestyle choices and recovery time. Promote a sense of calm. You’ll get clearer thinking, better decision-making and stronger work performance.

Trend 3: Digital Fluency

Lagging tech skills: Let’s face it. Many seasoned professionals with valued leadership acumen simply aren’t comfortable with data and tech tools. They are ill-equipped to work efficiently and to help their organizations use technology effectively.

What you can do: Help leaders at all levels to harness the power of technology and data to propel your business forward. Ask digitally savvy employees to train leaders and colleagues who are less tech-fluent. Make certain geographically dispersed teams know how to use collaboration tools to stay connected.

Trend 4: Embracing Disruption

A shifting landscape: Organizations are discovering that doing things the way they have always been done is the enemy of innovation. They need leaders who can embrace disruption and create a new normal, with new ways of thinking and doing.

What you can do: Teach leaders to think in more systemic, strategic and interdependent ways, expanding their capacity to work innovatively within disruptive situations. Offer challenging experiences that open them up to new opinions, new perspectives and new ways of seeing the world.

Trend 5: Kicking Glass

Few women in senior roles: The business case for promoting women into leadership is compelling. It improves financial performance and promotes greater job satisfaction and engagement for all workers. But despite the advantages, fewer women are moving into senior leadership. The #MeToo movement has brought renewed attention to this glass ceiling and to decades-long practices that have hampered equality, and organizations are beginning to pay attention.

What you can do: Ensure female leaders have the experiences and resources they need to move up, including networks, sponsors and advocates to challenge and support them. Root out unconscious bias in your systems and culture. Implement gender-neutral, race-neutral processes for hiring, promotion and succession planning.

Trend 6: Reimagined Reviews

Traditional performance management less effective: Organizations are reimagining what was once the dreaded annual performance review. Instead, they are focusing on frequent, ongoing feedback, arming employees to make earlier course corrections that benefit both their organization and their career.

What you can do: Build a coaching culture. Deliver specific, fact-based feedback and prescriptive advice. Give more positive feedback than negative so employees will be more likely to hear and respond to suggestions for improvement.

Trend 7: Culture Reboot

Culture norms mired in the past: CCL’s survey shows there is new appreciation for leadership culture change as a way to accelerate organizational transformation. Companies are recognizing that to compete in today’s world, they need new ways of thinking, new ways of doing and a shared sense of ownership.

What you can do: Identify important business drivers and any gaps between your present state and the culture you want to build. Focus on aligning leaders at all levels behind a shared vision, language and set of behaviors.

Transformative Talent Development

The most effective talent development teams will respond to these seven trends by making transformational changes in how they shape their workforce. They will equip their people to be more agile, future-fluent and proactive — developing leaders who are able to pivot quickly in response to new challenges and opportunities.