Talent Assessment: Three Ways to Reimagine Your 2021 Talent Development Budget

Talent assessments provide detailed insight into your workforce that can help you identify where to make the most impactful investments and where you can save on training and development efforts.

Matthew Such, Ph.D., SVP, Product and Solutions, Global Head of Assessment, LHH
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Under normal circumstances, prioritising training and development needs can be daunting for any HR professional. Undertaking that task amid seismic market disruptions can be nothing short of overwhelming.

The talent development decisions you make now are critical. The current, dynamic business environment is creating an enormous demand for new skills and capabilities. At the same time, organisations are struggling to source and cultivate talent internally. To effectively manage these challenges, HR leaders need data and insights to make smart, informed investments that align with internal strategic objectives and external macro-economic forces.

Investing in the development of your talent is essential. And yet, how much do you know about it?

Your talent not only represents the single largest line item in your operating budget, it’s also the single largest factor that will determine your business’s growth potential. And yet, how much do you really know about your existing talent and what learning opportunities they need to meet the increasing demands on your organisation? What you don’t know about your talent today ultimately will hurt you in the future. 

Strategic talent assessment creates objective, actionable insights that help inform targeted investments throughout the talent lifecycle, taking the guessing out of talent and development planning.

Assessment use is not limited to the recruitment and hiring process

While assessments often are associated with the recruitment process, forward-thinking organisations use them to create insights throughout the employment lifecycle. Talent assessment results provide invaluable input into defining, planning, and prioritising activities around training, development, and hiring that can ultimately help align your talent and business strategies. 

Here are three ways assessments can help you define and prioritise talent development needs in your organisation.

1. Reveal strengths and development opportunities in existing talent.  If your current method for analysing development needs is to rely on the opinions of managers and leaders, then it's time to shift your approach. While this input can be helpful, it also tends to be reactive, biased, and not future-focused. Simply put, it is inappropriate to rely on the gut feeling of managers for informed decisions about broader development needs within your organisation. Systematic use of talent assessment yields an objective picture of your workforce that allows you to determine how well aligned it is with the current and future needs of your business. With these insights in hand, you can get the most from each person’s day-to-day performance, prioritise talent development efforts in areas where it is truly needed and avoid spending time and money in areas where you already have substantial strength.

2. Fill key talent gaps. Effectively anticipating and satisfying the demand for new and different skills required to meet business needs is already a mission-critical priority for HR leaders. Talent assessment helps you address this challenge by:

Identifying future skill gaps within the workforce; 
Determining whether the organisation has enough existing talent to meet future needs, and;
Highlighting the extent to which external hiring will be required to fill critical gaps.  

If your organisation lacks sufficient staff to develop, or if the skills your organisation needs do not lend themselves to development efforts, you may be best served to hire from outside the organisation. Taking such an approach to quantifying talent through assessment allows you to create long-term strategies to ensure you always know how to find and deploy the right talent, whether it is sourced internally or externally.

3. Identify high-potentials and future-ready leaders. How often have you seen investments in high-potential and leadership programs wasted—or worse—the people you just invested in walk out the door? To get the most out of talent development investments, you must identify the right talent to drive your organisation in meeting its near- and long-term business goals. 

Ensuring you identify and develop the right future leaders to drive your business ahead requires understanding the difference between high-performers and high-potentials. High performers are vital to the organisation and drive results within their current roles. High potentials, on the other hand, have specific attributes that allow them to advance to more senior leadership roles. Assessments can help identify both high performers and high potentials. More importantly, it will tell you how to make best use of them going forward into the future. 

For example, assessment data allows you to thoughtfully plan how to best leverage your high potentials’ existing critical capabilities and expertise, while identifying development paths for those who may require further training to meet future strategic needs. 

Whether you are feeling uncertain about your talent development plan for next year or just unsure what skills your people have and need, talent assessment will enable you to make confident, evidence-based decisions. 

Talent assessment produces objective evidence about where to make the most impactful talent development investments, where you can save on those efforts, and also, how to quickly find talent who will drive your organisation’s success. 

Even if you have started your 2021 talent development plan, adding assessments to the mix can reveal new ways to refine and prioritise needs within that plan and maximise your ability to help drive your organisation’s growth and on-going success.

 
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