How Learning Can Help You Get and Retain Top Talent

Everyone is trying to crack the code. How do you get and retain top talent, especially the top talent that is recently entering the workforce?

Create a culture of flexible growth.

It probably comes as no surprise that company culture is a pivotal factor in the career decision-making process for new talent. But what about a particular culture is exciting for our workforce? The rise of flexible work schedules and Google-inspired office spaces have certainly influenced what our workforce expects and wants out of the company they work for. But other factors, including training and development, also rank high in importance. In fact, research by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) states that “career development is one of the top three job factors that will both attract and retain early career talent.”

Encourage continuous learning.

Development used to be defined by training programs and career paths, full of structure and lacking flexibility, but companies clinging to this rigidity face growing problems. Today’s learners want to see a focus on development where learning and growth are built into the very foundation of the company culture. Development of the workforce should be part of who the company is, not a separate event altogether.

This isn’t a new story. Many companies have already adopted development as part of their culture—creating a culture of learning to drive continual growth. It’s really all about creating a development ecosystem, made up of “career-oriented components that are integrated into a common brand.” However, this culture won’t just happen naturally. It’s must be intentionally integrated right into the core beliefs, standards, and daily activities of the company.

Stay people-focused.

ATD mentions that the ecosystem for development must also include “a plan for generating passion, quick wins, eliminating obstacles, establishing expectations.” Now, generating passion is not easy, and it requires taking a step back from all the numbers and focusing on people. This doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t important—it means developing clear communication between team members and levels of management. ATD notes that great ways to start communicating passion and expectations include:

  • Frequent coaching
  • Feedback and career conversations
  • Recognizing and promoting people-focused managers
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Develop a focus on growth.

Developing a culture of learning will only work with commitment from your entire company. This means management and company executives must step out as daily examples of flexible learning and personal growth. This often means reframing conversations with employees to focus on growth opportunities rather than failures. For example, when a manager sits down with a struggling sales representative, the manager has three possible approaches to the conversation:

  • Shame-focused: Your results for this month are unacceptable. I can’t understand how you’re this incompetent. Get your numbers up, or we’ll show you the door.
  • Disappointment-focused: I’m really disappointed in your numbers this month. We talked about this last month, and I thought we’d reached an understanding. If we can’t get something figured out….
  • Growth-focused: How have you been doing this month? Let’s chat about the different responses you’ve been getting from clients and brainstorm some new approaches. Also, Sally’s been using a great technique that I’d love to implement all-around. I’d like to hear what you think about it. Are you open for a meeting with her tomorrow afternoon?

The disappointment and shame-based responses focus on the negative and remove all personal empowerment from the employee. When management chooses the growth-focused response, the employee gains the encouragement and tools needed for personal growth.

The key? Hire and train management and employees who live out a culture of flexible growth and continuous learning. Mindset is everything, and change is hard. But if developing a culture of learning is executed successfully, it’s one piece of the recruitment puzzle that will keep on giving.

Want a culture of learning?

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