Why Talent Development Is Your Responsibility

Talent development is critically important for employee recruitment and retention. Here are six things companies can do to develop their people.

By Neil Solari 

If you’re struggling to find and keep good employees, one thing you may be overlooking is talent development. Every employer should be focused on how they can help their staff learn and grow as a professional, and plans for employee development should start at the recruitment stage. 

Why is talent development your responsibility? 

As a talent recruiter, I can tell you that candidates are more likely to ask me about a company’s personal training and growth programs than they are a position’s salary. It’s something we talk about with every single one of our clients. If there are no opportunities for training and growth, we may not even engage with that company because our candidates aren’t going to go there.  

Senior and executive employees aren’t just working for you to earn a paycheck. They’re there to have a career. That means they want to continue to grow as professionals, and they need you to help them do that. 

The younger generation of workers, who make up an ever-increasing share of the workforce, expect employers to provide training. Millennials and Gen Z were raised, for the most part, by parents who were extremely involved. They’ve had everything handed to them, and they don’t know where to start developing themselves. They’re unlikely to even apply for a job unless the employer mentions talent development programs. If they take a job and don’t get the training they expect, they won’t stay for long.

Talent Development Helps with Retention Too 

Especially right now, when the talent pool is still very small and it’s hard to find highly qualified candidates, staff retention is critical. Talent development is a great tool for this. Many studies show that, while money is important to millennial and Gen Z workers, what’s more important to them is learning, feeling valued and knowing they’re getting somewhere in their career. Employee training touches on all of these. 

There’s also an obvious reason talent development should be your responsibility: when an employee knows how to do their job, they do it better and make you more money. Many companies hire a professional to conduct sales training for their sales staff, not only because it benefits them, but because better salespeople sell more stuff. Well-trained employees know your brand’s mission and values, and they do a better job of sharing that information with your customers.  

Your best, most loyal employees will often refer people to your company. You may have heard the expression “ducks swim with ducks.” In this case, it means that good employees will bring in more good employees. 

How to Develop Talent

The rewards of talent development come back to the company in loaves what you gave away in slices. But even with all of these benefits, a lot of employers in the wine industry do little to nothing to support talent development. That’s a big reason there’s so much turnover. Here are some things you can do to provide employee training no matter your company’s size. 

Ask Employees What They Want. One of the best ways to figure out how to develop your people is to ask them. What do you want to learn? What’s important to you? What can we do to develop you as a person and as an employee? You may think you know the answer, but asking folks first is going to make your life a lot easier than figuring it out on their own.

Do Talent Development at Your Regular Meetings. I encourage all managers to have a weekly or monthly one-on-one with every member of their staff. Understanding their struggles, meeting their needs and helping them overcome challenges is a type of training. 

Provide Cross Training. Cross training is very important, particularly at small companies. If you only have three people who work at your winery, what happens if one of those people is out sick for a day (or a week)? Everything stops. 

Make sure your employees are cross-trained on other people’s jobs. It’s a way of developing talent because everyone you hired is learning to do another job. And it makes the company stronger because you have backups. 

Engage in leadership development and mentoring. Everybody wants leadership development, and leadership development classes are easy to find. Mentorship programs are very popular right now and are easy to implement. Once you get the program set up and your first cohort of mentees graduates, they can become a mentor for someone else and the program self perpetuates. 

Do Talent Development At Work, Not Afterward. Training, mentorship programs and other talent development should be done during the work day. This is part of the person’s job, so they should be able to take time to do it. This new generation will not take kindly to being told that if they want training or mentoring, they have to do it on a Sunday. Training doesn’t have to be a full day. You can conduct sessions for an hour or even a half hour at a time. 

Hire a talent development manager. Many large companies have a dedicated person for talent development. It can be a hybrid role — perhaps someone in human resources — with talent acquisition and talent development being done by the same person. Or it can be a standalone role. Having someone take on talent development as a defined part of their job is a good idea because it gets done well and consistently. 

When you hire a person, you’re taking on the responsibility of developing them professionally. Take that duty seriously and you’ll have higher retention rates, better service to customers and more overall success as a company. 

Published on Wine Industry Network February 10, 2023

Neil Solari
Neil Solari

Neil Solari is the founder and CEO of Intertwine, a talent acquisition firm that focuses solely on hospitality companies. He spent nearly 20 years as an executive at some of the largest recruiting firms in the United States before starting his own firm. His knowledge of the hospitality business dates back to his childhood; his family owns Larkmead Vineyards, one of the original post-Prohibition wineries in Napa, Calif.


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