Talent Activation

Turning Potential into Performance

By Adina Sapp

Despite research from the DeVry University Career Advisory Board’s 2018 annual survey showing that 77 percent of L&D experts feel their organizations are doing a good job of developing the workforce, the persistent skills gap and high rate of employee disengagement across the industry says otherwise. So, what’s missing?

In keeping with its commitment to providing workforce solutions and forming employer education partnerships, DeVryWORKS, the employer partnership team of DeVry University, put together a panel of learning leaders to explore this topic in a discussion titled Activate Talent and Unleash Potential. The intent was to provide tangible strategies to activate your talent, trigger improved performance and energize your business growth trajectory.

The panel agreed that the problem of the persistent skills gap and disengagement arises from multiple external and internal factors, such as the continued evolution of the marketplace and the shorter value duration of educational degrees. “The marketplace has continued to evolve, and our learning methodologies really haven’t,” said Monica Guillory, director of HR and workplace inclusion at RRD.

The reality is that employee motivation takes a lot more than checking the box of annual training, and current training methodologies aren’t filling the skills gap. As Joe Mozden Jr., vice president of DeVryWORKS put it, there are three primary reasons talent activation hasn’t “popped” enough to fill the skills gap for many organizations:

1 They don’t understand the difference between training versus talent activation.

2 They make learning optional (which is fine in the long term, but not initially).

3 They succumb to perceived budget limitations.

Training Versus Talent Activation

The panel discussed multiple strategies and methodologies for deliberate and effective talent activation. The important thing to note is that talent activation is not the same thing as training. “The concept of talent activation moves away from training, which is a one-time event, and asks how you create engagement for an employee through their entire employee lifecycle, from hiring, to onboarding, to developing and learning,” Mozden said.

It’s essential to create engagement points along the way, recognizing that employees may not always feel like they want to be engaged, but they can still be highly productive and engaged in the company. Talent activation is not a one-time thing; it should go through the lifetime of the employee.

Employee Buy-in

While many organizations make learning optional, Mozden advised that this may not be the best approach, at least in the early stages of creating a learning culture. But there is a balance: leaders are responsible for creating a learning culture and employees are responsible for learning. “HR and leadership will be there for you, but at the end of the day you own your own career,” said Casper Moerck, head of learning technology – Americas at Siemens. You can motivate your employees through a variety of techniques, but they are responsible for their own careers. That is why it is so important to hire mindsets, not just skill sets, Guillory advised.

Mozden, who coaches his clients on leveraging talent activation for competitive advantage, pointed out that figuring out the prescribed approach is the other side of the freedom of the “own your career” perspective. It’s also essential to bring the learning to the employee; the university model is not always appropriate in the workforce.

Learning leaders have a lot of power to influence the corporate culture. “Every chance there’s an opportunity to speak to your team or organization, incorporate that language about talent activation. Integrate into the fabric of the organization by the actions and words you use that this is a valued activity for the organization. That has a lot of strength in permeating throughout the organization,” Mozden said.

Executive Sponsorship

Talent activation is a calculated strategy with observable results. This is the message you must bring to the decision-makers to ensure that budget is allocated appropriately. “The organizational strategy and what the business wants — those are the organizational learning objectives,” Moerck said.

“Talent activation moves away from training (a one-time event) and asks how you create engagement for an employee through the entire employee lifecycle.”

—Joe Mozden Jr., vice president of DeVryWORKS

“Talent hiring is the immediate crisis, and the cost analysis of that versus upskilling current employees is the way to show executives that talent activation is valuable. Talent activation is not quick to measure; it takes years. So, you need to look forward to those metrics while also solving the immediate problems and showing metrics for what’s happening now.”

The ultimate goal is to solve the biggest talent crises that we’ve seen in years. You might not be able to hire the skill set you’re looking for, but you can create it.

To view the panel discussion Activate Talent and Unleash Potential, visit event.clomedia.com/activate-talent-and-unleash-potential-stream.

To learn more about DeVryWORKS, visit devryworks.devry.edu.

At DeVryWORKS, we understand that some of the biggest challenges for any business are related to the workforce—hiring skilled people, retaining strong talent, and developing the leaders of tomorrow. DeVryWORKS seeks to truly understand your company’s talent strategies and goals, so we can help you build a brilliant workforce and drive success across your organization. Look to us as the resource you need to support your talent development, skills gap training and talent acquisition initiatives.