Talent management plans develop your people for enterprise-wide ROI

One of the most important investments an organization can make is to develop its staff. A recent Gallup study found that companies that have implemented strengths-based management practices have more engaging and productive workplaces, leading to increased profits of 14-29 percent. Lower turnover also helps these companies maintain performance levels. "The organizations that do talent management well have consistent performance year-in and year-out," said Tom Hershberger, president of Cross Financial Group. "If you don't develop talent you'll miss opportunities." 

A strategic talent management plan also provides a solid foundation for succession planning: "Talent management puts teeth into a succession plan," said Jennie Sobecki, co-owner of Focused Results, LLC. A strong talent development and succession plan will improve the bank's ability to hire and retain top talent, ultimately benefitting the institution's performance. "Overall talent management has a huge impact on both recruitment and retention when it comes to succession planning," explained Jenna Atkinson, president of Jenna Atkinson Consulting. "Investing in your team's individual success shows that you care about your people and helps build ties and reduce turnover. It'll help you recruit and retain top talent even in today's competitive hiring market."

Train & Retain

Talent retention is an important priority in today's highly competitive job market. Honey Shelton, president of InterAction Training, says talent development can help banks keep their competition from recruiting away their best performers. "I think every company has a 'short list' of best performers who you just don't want to lose," she said. "Sharing the reward of being a high-performance bank is really critical." That reward doesn't always need to be monetary, either. Recognition and growth opportunities are equally important to many workers, so clearly laying out each employee's growth trajectory is an important component of talent management. "When you incorporate performance development and enhancement into performance reviews it provides a pathway and you'll have more satisfied employees," said Sobecki. Those satisfied employees are far less likely to leave the institution in order to advance their careers, according to Atkinson. "If they know what their internal opportunities are they are less likely to seek those opportunities at another organization," she said. Using a talent management strategy to reduce turnover directly benefits the bank as much as the employees. "Ultimately, you end up with lower operating costs because you're not hiring and training as much," Hershberger explained, noting that the bank's customers will also benefit as bank staff deliver more consistent service.

Engage & Recruit

On the recruitment side, Shelton explains that engaged employees can be the bank's most effective recruiters. "Your greatest recruiters can come from your payroll, if they're highly satisfied," she said. Investing in staff development can even be a component of overall brand management for the bank. "Rather than investing in projects that don't deliver direct ROI, consider investing in your people," Atkinson suggested. "Instead of investing in a billboard, invest in 50 walking billboards: your employees. It's the best marketing that you could ever buy." In addition, an established training and development program makes for a less stressful and more confident place of work by reducing the uncertainty that can arise from less well-defined succession plans. "If there is ongoing talent management and development in the organization, that makes selection and placement of the next leader much easier," said Hershberger. "No one can move past their current responsibilities until someone else knows how to take on those current activities." 

Develop Your Talent Management Plan

With these benefits in mind, how should bank management and/or human resources personnel go about creating or improving their talent management plan? First, create development goals for every position within the bank. If your institution doesn't have a talent management plan, your instinct might be to first identify areas of the bank (or specific positions) to relegate to the back burner or skip over entirely. "That's like asking which part of the ship is best to have a hole in," Atkinson pointed out. "There's not a good place to have gaps." A comprehensive approach to talent development also means you're developing your "bench strength" throughout the institution. "A succession plan isn't just for the top team," Sobecki clarified. "If your branch manager ever wants to be the retail administrator, they first need to make sure that someone can take over the branch manager position."

Second, it's critical to establish clear lines of communication and feedback for managers and employees. "It's important for everyone to be on the same page and provide the amount of feedback that your employees' want," said Sobecki. Managers must be trained to work with their employees to define expectations and evaluate results. "Great managers make the discussion of performance expectations and reviewing outcomes part of their ongoing management practices," said Hershberger. This is especially important at community banks where the org chart tends to be very flat - upward growth is difficult when there are only three or four layers to the institution. "When moving up isn't an option, you can't develop someone and give them the opportunity to take on more responsibility without setting clear expectations for growth and performance and then measuring that," Hershberger explained. Since feedback goes both ways, Atkinson also stressed the importance of giving due consideration to any comments received from employees. "If no action is taken, it's more damaging and discouraging than not accepting feedback at all," she warned. 

Third, incorporate talent development into annual performance reviews, ideally with periodic check-ins throughout the year. In today's banking industry, training and development often falls to managers, where in the past many institutions employed full-time trainers. "The best way to replicate that kind of development is to incorporate it into the performance review and include quarterly milestone updates," said Sobecki. Managers should incorporate tangible, trackable indicators into their reviews and identify resources their employees will need in order to achieve their targeted goals. "When you get down to performance indicators, things that can be tracked, evaluated and monitored, it makes evaluation real," Shelton said. "That's how you develop self-managed people. They know what they're shooting for and that they have someone in their corner giving them what they need to get there."

Finally, ensure the talent development plan aligns with the bank's overall strategic plan. "Place the importance on talent management and recruiting according to your strategic plan," Shelton advised. "What is the bank trying to become, and what do you need more or less of?" The answers to those questions should inform the bank's approach to talent development and succession planning. "Succession planning is a long-term, continuous process that should be employed in every area of the organization," said Hershberger. "How can you plan for the future success of the organization without taking a candid look at who will be leading that staff, project and corporate direction?"

So, where to begin? The first step will differ for every institution based on its current development practices and talent needs. Shelton recommends evaluating the bank's current practices to identify a starting point. "Each bank has to decide what they think is working, what isn't working, and how they know it," she said. "Then, prioritize where to begin."

Learn more:

Jennie Sobecki will lead a Train the Trainer workshop on April 6 in Madison designed to equip attendees to train frontline bank staff on Listening for Opportunities, a Center for Financial Training (CFT) module. The morning is devoted to learning about how to train for impact and a review of the Listening for Opportunities content. The afternoon will focus on how to transfer skills to the job for employees, test presentations by attendees, and receive feedback from the instructor. For more information or to register for this seminar, please click here