7 Components of a Comprehensive Talent Development Program

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Today companies are realizing that their people—and their ability to build diverse, flexible and versatile teams—are of the utmost importance to ongoing success. To ready your recruitment processes for the workplace of the future, consider these components of a comprehensive talent development program.


Although business is fast-paced all over the globe, working in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the ever-shifting tech industry, we at Future State often find ourselves on the forefront of emergent business needs. Today more and more of our clients and colleagues are talking to us about the need to build comprehensive programs for talent management. More than ever, companies are realizing that their people—and their ability to build diverse, flexible and versatile teams—are of the utmost importance to ongoing success. Talent management is changing, and that change is being driven by a number of trends; ATD research named these top trends influencing the next five years of global talent development: The need for an innovative workforce; more flexible organizations to adapt to our rapidly changing world; changes in skills needed for success in the workplace of tomorrow; employees demanding more of employers; and an increase in the strategic responsibility held by those responsible for talent development.

At Future State, we call ourselves a human-centered management consulting firm for this very reason: We have long recognized that people are the heart of any organization and the true drivers of innovation and ongoing success. We have years of experience helping organizations design and implement the processes, mindsets and behaviors to build a successful and lasting pipeline of talent—and our on-demand workforce and consulting services help augment teams and drive success as we roll out and build these critical programs.

Because I’ve been getting asked more and more about this process and what is needed for success, I thought I’d share the seven components of a comprehensive talent development program.

  1. Define clear Talent Management Vision, Values, and Goals that support your business objectives. This serves as the framework to build and prioritize all other programs. This means looking beyond filling positions—it’s considering how talent ties in to the overarching goals of your organization and determining what roles are needed to make those goals a reality. It’s also defining the resources mix of your talent management plan: How many resources are you going to put toward internal talent development? How many toward recruiting? When might it make sense to bring in outside expertise to build systems or achieve specific goals?
  2. Build an end-to-end Talent Development Framework that serves as the programmatic roadmap for how you attract, retain and build talent. Here, it’s important to consider having the right mix of workforce including skills and competencies as well as diversity in the talent pool, which may include gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, age and other factors. A diverse talent pool opens up your networking capabilities, is proven to drive innovation, and helps attract top talent.
  3. A Talent Gap Assessment that serves as the baseline of near-term competencies and actions that need to occur to shore up immediate gaps and guide long-term talent investments: This is where outside consultants and on-demand staff may be a useful investment. Bringing in individuals or teams with expertise can help drive projects to success while you’re in the process of developing long-term staff.
  4. A Talent Succession Plan model that defines the roles, responsibilities and demonstrated capabilities needed for advancement: This should take into account your Talent Management Vision, Values, and Goals, and identify the prerequisite capabilities for various responsibilities and roles, and how internal talent can develop and demonstrate those skills.
  5. An Employee Engagement Program that measures perceptions of the workforce and provides data to leadership on the true pulse of the culture and the workforce: Once you’ve recruited a stellar team, it’s critical to monitor key measures of employee satisfaction such as making sure team members have access to the resources they need, aren’t moving toward burn-out, and feel part of the workplace culture. We all know turnover is expensive. Aim to build in processes that help ensure employee satisfaction and retention, and help maximize the return on your biggest investment: your people.
  6. A Diversity and Inclusion Strategy that promotes balanced hiring: We hear all the time that companies and leadership are concerned with and dedicated to creating this kind of strategy, but they’re not sure how and they know they’re not there yet. Building in accountability for diversity and inclusion is key to making sure this crucial component is met. Consciousness and accountability need to be built in all the way from recruitment to support at the executive level. As much as everyone may be on board, you’re much more likely to succeed if these measures are an essential component of something concrete, such as performance reviews or bonus structures.
  7. An HR Talent and Tools Assessment to assess if you have the internal capabilities to execute, maintain and measure against your talent management goals over time: Once you’ve built and begun executing a plan, it’s important to continue to assess your team against your goals to make sure you are ready for whatever the future brings.

LYNETTE PHILLIPS is Future State’s lead Client Portfolio Director for On-Demand Talent. A foundational member of the Future State team, Lynette is an expert at holistically analyzing any project, seeing the gaps, and identifying the perfect people to round out teams and drive success.