Whether Attracting or Retaining Talent, Managers Hold the Reins

Attracting, developing, and retaining talent isn’t an “HR job.” You, the manager, have a front-and-center role in making sure you have the right people doing the right work and having the right experiences, now and in the future.

What do you do well and consistently? What haven’t you considered? What would be most valued by your employees — and your organization?

If you want to be known as a cultivator of talent in your organization, follow this checklist for attracting and retaining talent:

1. Take responsibility for developing your employees.

This is about focusing on your current team and your scope of work.

  • Make developing your employees a core part of the job.
  • Look for ways to support employees in their efforts to learn and grow.
  • Hold employees accountable for their development.

2. Take responsibility for developing talent in the organization.

This is about looking beyond your team or function to consider the larger talent needs and opportunities.

  • Develop successors who can take on your job.
  • Take ownership of the organization’s talent management processes.
  • Work with HR leaders to make sure appropriate development is available for employees.
  • Invest your time and energy in developing future leaders for the organization.
  • Import talented employees from other parts of the organization.
  • Export talented employees to other parts of the organization.


3. Use on-the-job experiences to develop employees.

This is about identifying and providing roles, tasks, or assignments that can add breadth and depth to an employee’s experience.

  • Ensure that your employees’ development plans go beyond formal programs to include on-the-job experiences.
  • Make a point of identifying stretch assignments for each of your direct reports.
  • Give direct reports assignments or experiences to help them develop specific competencies.
  • Create new roles or job responsibilities to provide an employee with needed experience.
  • Consider the development opportunities a particular assignment could provide when making decisions about how to staff key projects.
  • Support employees who seek growth experiences outside the workplace (i.e. in community or professional organizations).
  • Reserve certain types of assignments specifically for employee development.

4. Support learning from experience.

This is about helping employees learn what they need to learn.

  • Help direct reports set goals for learning from stretch assignments, relationships, and formal coursework.
  • Aid them in assessing progress toward learning goals.
  • Give developmental feedback.
  • Have conversations about what they’re learning from their experiences.

It’s also worth helping direct reports connect with others who can support their learning and development, including coaches, experts, and peer mentors.

Learning from experience is the No. 1 way people develop the skills, behaviors, and perspectives they need to be effective at work.

Sure, your employees need to own their learning and their career path. But your ability to cultivate talent can have a great impact on them — as well as on your own reputation and effectiveness as a leader.

Emerging Leadership Trends Report

For more specific ideas about experience-driven development for yourself or your direct reports, check out Developmental Assignments: Creating Learning Experiences Without Changing Jobs.

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