Talent management

Employees and people are at the centre of your business. They are also your core asset. As a business owner, you should be aware that there is always competition for talent in the human capital market place, and you cannot assume that individuals will always want to invest their own human capital in your business. Elements that go beyond traditional pay and job security need to be put in place to attract, develop and retain top and key talent.

Human capital is one of your business’s key assets. Recognising and acknowledging the benefits that your talent brings to your business helps you to understand this. Your business should ensure its talent management systems translate into better individual or organisational performance.

Typically, talent management is based on the following areas:

Acquisition - seeking and acquiring the right skill sets for your business.

Development - building your team’s capabilities, looking after their personal development and making sure they continue to benefit the business, along with providing training and improving their skills.

Retention - providing the right environment and resources to keep your employees with your business.

Talent management also includes identifying the key talent that drives high performance within your business. You can gain the necessary insight into these performance drivers by utilising analytical tools such as off-the-shelf software– or building a simple inhouse database and regularly analysing it to understand what talent you have and what you need to acquire.

A growing and high-performing business needs to link organisational design with talent. Positions defined within the organisation should have well-defined responsibilities and the business should adopt a robust decision-making framework. Well-developed talent and workforce management strategies will complement your business strategy and operations.

Business skills planning

Nowadays businesses need to build new approaches to strategic workforce planning and talent management, where better forecasting data and people analytics are critical.

Data analytics may prove to be useful for:

facilitating objective assessment and enabling a performance management strategy

understanding career paths and individual development plans

identifying unconscious biases in recruitment processes

understanding workplace behaviours, engagement and organisational culture.

Carry out a skills assessment to identify the skills employees need to develop and provide a clearer picture when developing and designing talent management initiatives, allowing for a more focused approach aligned to your business strategy.

Click here to learn more about building skills. 

Employee development

One of the key drivers of quality is ensuring that your employees have the appropriate skills and experience – and passion and purpose – to deliver the highest quality products and services. This requires the right recruitment, development, reward, promotion and assignment of professionals.

Ensure that your employees receive the necessary training to perform their jobs. Successful businesses set annual training priorities for development and performance, with training delivered using a blend of classroom or digital learning and on-the-job support.

There are three key styles of training:

structured training including classroom and online training

on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring

continuous training. 

Structured training

Effective learning is built on the same quality principles no matter the delivery mechanism – digital, gaming, virtual or in person. Today’s modern workplace demands a learning platform that is as dynamic as the people it serves. The rapid pace of change requires your business to have an agile strategy that is easy to scale and responsive to changes in order to support continued learning and development, aligning your business needs with the emerging skills needed.

Ongoing mentoring and on-the-job coaching

Learning is not confined to the classroom — coaching and just-in-time learning aligned with job-specific role profiles can be even more effective.

Mentoring and on-the-job experience play key roles in developing the personal qualities important for a successful career, including professional judgment, technical excellence and instinct.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

For some specific products or services, employees may need to have certifications or be required to maintain CPD in accordance with applicable professional standards, laws and regulations. In some instances, compliance with the CPD requirements may be tested and reviewed by external agencies and bodies.

You should establish induction training for new employees and those moving into new roles. Providing a comprehensive and well-planned induction is essential for ensuring the long-term effectiveness of your employees. You should begin an induction programme on the first day an employee starts a new role.

For certain sectors, such as retail, on-the-job training may be the best way to provide your new employees with induction training. You can manage on-the-job training informally by having existing employees show a new employee what to do. Typically, in these sectors, on-the-job training will involve a significant amount of mentoring and shadowing, where new employees follow experienced ones in tasks and roles, learning by observation. 

Employee training strategy and considerations

Prepare a training programme that is effective and tailored to your business and skill set needs.

Whether your programme is an official document or general business practice, take into consideration the following principles relating to adult training:

Principles of adult learning

Apply the principles of how adults learn when structuring the training. Teaching adults is not the same as teaching children.

Adults must want to learn

Adults typically need to see the relevance of learning and must want to learn. They must have a desire to learn a new skill or to acquire knowledge if they are to pay attention to training.

Adults are practical

Adults want training to help them right now, not 10 years from now. They need to learn something tangible from each session to leave feeling that they have gained something useful. Avoid too much theory or background and focus on what needs to be taught.

Adults best learn by doing

If adults are actively involved in tasks they will learn more effectively than if they simply listen or watch. Involving them in actively seeking solutions to tasks on their own coupled with immediate utilisation of new skills increases the retention rates of any training.

Adults learn by solving realistic problems

Adults want to feel that training is relevant, realistic and true to life. Discuss practical cases and situations and encourage adults to share their own experiences, both positive and negative.

Experience affects adult learning

Adults relate new knowledge to what they already know, and where contradictions arise, they may have difficulty retaining content. If the training may challenge existing assumptions, formulate it carefully to build on relevant experiences.

Adults often learn best in an informal environment

Not all adults enjoyed going to school as children and most do not want to be treated as children now that they have left school. Avoid a classroom-like atmosphere whenever possible by adjusting the room layout to ensure as many participants as possible have direct line of sight to the trainer, who should engage them in two-way dialogue to create an atmosphere of collaboration instead of delivering a one-way lecture.

Adults respond to a variety of teaching methods

Ideas sink in better if presented in a variety of ways, whether logical or sensory. Comprehension and retention can be increased by switching between different teaching techniques and varying voice or pitch. Encourage interaction and regular breaks to provide variety.

Adults want guidance, not grades

Adults generally know how good they are at a task. Rather than setting tests or exams, provide useful feedback and encouragement, which can be both verbal – as simple as saying, “Well done,” – or non-verbal, such as a smile or a nod. 

When preparing your own training programme and strategy, consider:

Overview of training – an understanding of the training approach and the principles to consider.

Explanation of training needs – an overview of the training requirements identified for your business.

Materials – a description of any materials you expect to use during training.

High level training plan and curriculum – the plan, curriculum and estimated training hours for your employees.

Logistics – who is required and when in order to plan, create and deliver the training.

Based on the needs analysis you performed and taking into consideration the learning principles, you should prepare your annual training programme. After you have structured your training plan, use your internal knowledge base and expertise to run the training in-house, or externally, if required. 

Keep in mind that certain training must be provided by law. Also, specific situations can change the way training is provided.

Developing people through mentoring

For small businesses, mentoring is often the first choice of knowledge sharing, given its benefits and effectiveness. The more experienced employees or owners are usually mentors to employees new to either the business or the role, who are known as mentees. This approach is inexpensive and on-the-job training can benefit both parties.

Mentoring is not only on-the-job training or coaching for specific tasks. Mentoring is intended to share both specific professional skills and develop soft skills such as leadership. 

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship which gives people the opportunity to share their professional and personal skills and experiences, and to grow and develop in the process. Typically, it is a one-to-one relationship between a more experienced person who is helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals. 

Mentoring is based on encouragement, constructive discussion, openness, mutual trust, respect and a willingness to learn and share. 

For mentoring to be effective, the relationship should:

focus on the needs of the mentee

foster caring and support

encourage all mentees to develop to their full potential.

Effective mentoring has a real positive impact. It brings about a culture of continuous learning and creates a climate in which the development of team members is valued and supported by leaders. Being involved in a mentoring partnership recognises the abilities of the leaders and provides the opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships outside of daily interactions.

Participating in mentoring programmes has benefits for all parties involved.


For more benefits of mentoring, refer to this overview and these three steps to use when establishing mentoring partnerships. 

Professional development training and continuous learning 

It is important to consider your employees’ lifelong learning and skill development. Your business will need to respond rapidly to market changes and disruption. Ensuring your employees are always up to speed with the latest knowledge and skills will not only help your business navigate change but will help you retain employees as they recognise the investment you are making in them.

A culture of continuous learning, constant upskilling and a challenging environment arises through steady evolution. Your role as a business owner is to create the right environment to achieve this. 


If you have certified employees or your business is in a specific sector or industry where employees need periodic testing or re-certification, you will need to provide the additional training and learning to ensure renewal of certificates or re-evaluation as appropriate. 

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