Six Strategies To Nurture And Retain Talent

*This article was originally featured on*

What would you say is your organization’s biggest advantage? The answer should be obvious: the people. Yet so often, this truth is overlooked, and this valuable resource is neglected.

Sustained success is much more attainable for businesses that focus on cultivating a people-centric culture. This includes being intentional about who you hire, where you place them, and how you develop their individual skill sets. By focusing on your team, you drive both present and future success. Plus, it’s great for talent attraction, retention, and eventually succession planning too.

The first step in nurturing your team’s talent is adopting the right mindset. A team is only as strong as its leader, and it’s up to the leader to understand their team thoroughly and play to their strengths. Once the team leader gets their head in the game, only then can progress be made. The HR team can play a big role in shifting a leader’s mindset as well as facilitating an environment where all can thrive.

Here are six strategies to nurture and retain your biggest advantage:

Create a Safe Space

This is table stakes. Make room for your employees to feel comfortable discussing their growth goals. Listen to what they have to say, because it will help you to understand what motivates them. Also encourage them to come forward with work frustrations, challenges, dreaded tasks, and so on. Don’t dismiss these or make excuses. Listening to your team is the fastest way to develop a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

When it comes to nurturing talent, providing opportunities for growth is a no-brainer. From workshops and training to mentorship and peer groups, there are countless ways to upskill your team members. Beyond these programs, you should also assign stretch assignments and challenging tasks that you know will stretch your employees out of their comfort zone. Just know that people learn through mistakes which may be more likely to occur when trying something new,  so give some forethought to how to provide support when needed.

Give Feedback and Encourage Reflection

Growth is often uncomfortable, but giving constructive feedback is a necessary part of the process. Forget the feedback sandwich. The best approach to giving feedback is to be honest and kind – ensure you focus on the good work your team is doing and make sure they are praised, feel valued and capable.  Be specific and encourage what they do well.  As needed, identify areas of improvement and provide tips on how to reach those goals. Encourage your employees to do their own self-review so they can recognize their strengths and weaknesses and take responsibility for their growth path.

Place Talent Strategically

Nurturing talent isn’t just about building new skills, it’s also largely about recognizing where certain skill sets will be the most effective. Placing talent where it will thrive most not only maximizes productivity/quality of work but also provides opportunities for the further development of that specialized talent.

Cover Your Bases

In the same vein as above, talent is maximized when focused, so make sure to have a diverse talent pool that is versed in all of the areas your team needs to cover. If you have employees regularly doing tasks that are not in their job description or in their goals, it’s probably time to take a look more broadly at the team’s work. A quick path to boredom and frustration is when their time is being wasted or work is not playing to a person’s strengths. Make sure to cover your bases when hiring so that you can leverage everyone’s talents effectively.

Work With What You’ve Got

A lot of organizations are sitting on talent that they’re completely unaware of. Look at your team with a close, opportunistic eye and try to pinpoint undervalued talent, then figure out how to put those skills to use. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees directly about their hidden work-related talents/interests and let them tell you how they can be an even more valuable asset.

So many organizations tend to neglect or underinvest in their people, which leaves them with disengaged employees, poor quality of work, and a high turnover rate. It makes no sense that business leaders are willing to invest so much into their company, and then draw the line at the single most important asset. Don’t make the same mistake – show your team you care about them, and they will do the same.

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