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The weight of employee development shouldn’t sit solely on the shoulders of the organization, or manager. Instead, it should be maintained through a well-balanced three-way partnership between the employee, their manager and the organization.


At work, employees experience both the company, and their interactions with a manager. They may enjoy the company culture, buy into its ideals, and understand its goals – but they may not feel the same way about their manager. The old adage, “People leave managers, more often than companies” talks to the responsibility managers have when it comes to talent retention. But it’s not all up to managers. The organization and the individuals also need to put in the effort – and have the right competencies – to ensure talent management works. Think of it as a three-way partnership that looks like this:

If these three entities don’t work together, there will be no common goals, a lack of communication, and a relationship breakdown, which will spell poor service and costly fixes for your company.

Here’s what the organization, the manager and the individual need to do, in order to play their part in the talent development process.

For the Organization:

First off, the organization needs to be prepared to invest time, money and effort in developing its talent. The focus here is less on money, and more on making opportunities available, through relevant learning resources and opportunities. The organization needs to understand what a person needs to know, and when they need to know it; making content and timing the most important things to manage.

Too many people are sent on courses to learn things they already know, or things they don’t need to know. Combat that by using technology to offer hyper-personalized learning. Technology tools can identify specific needs at specific times and then drive relevant, highly-personal training to the user – like how Netflix customizes the shows it recommends to its audience.

The organization also needs to equip managers with the ability to develop their staff, because this is not necessarily a skill managers have practiced very often. Luckily, if someone has to do something infrequently, technology can help to lead them through the process. Organizations need to give managers the right tools to develop staff, such as technology that guides development conversations, and offers practical solutions to help employees improve.

Ask yourself these questions to see if your organization is doing its part:

  • Do we know what it takes for each person to be effective?
  • Do we know who has what skills, and where the gaps are?
  • Do we personalize the learning experience for each person?
  • Do we provide people with the opportunity to practice new skills without severe consequences for failure?
  • Do we provide feedback to people who are trying to learn a new skill to help them master it more quickly?

For the Manager:

Learning programmes only transfer knowledge. Once an employee has been given the relevant development resources, the manager needs to create an opportunity for the employee to apply their new skills. Sending a person on a Powerpoint course is useless, for instance, if they’ll never have access to the programme, or need to put together a presentation. Managers need to give their employees a chance to practice their skills, and offer them constructive and practical feedback and tips on how to improve. They should make regular use of the tools provided by the organization to help them.

Ask yourself these questions to see if your managers are doing their part:
Does each manager know why someone is trying to acquire a new skill?
Does each manager know what the person is learning and how it will help them to do their job better?
Do managers create opportunities to apply and practice new skills?
Do managers encourage people to learn and provide corrective feedback where necessary?
Do managers create a safe environment to practice new skills?

For the Individual:

As for the individual employee, well, they have to do the work. Think of it like going to the gym. The equipment needs to be ready (the organization and development resources), and you need access to a personal trainer (the manager) to guide you. But the individual has to do the hard work; they have to make the decision to be healthy, have the discipline to go, and the commitment to stick with it. That’s their role.

If your organization has provided enough access to development tools, and encouragement and feedback in the form of an interested, equipped manager, your employees will be empowered to perform, achieve and grow.