Companies will be hard pressed in 2011 to hold onto high-performing employees, according to Sandi Edwards, Senior Vice President for American Management Association Corporate Learning Solutions, which offers advisory services and tailored learning programs to organizations.
Top talent are high-value assets in every organization, said Edwards. “The best performers always have options. Sustaining and growing business depends upon how well managers engage, motivate and develop these valuable resources. Yet, still so many employers are worried that top talent will depart. To retain key contributors more companies are using leadership development as a way to reach out to high potentials, who’ll be individually targeted and given customized programs based on their needs and goals. The intention is that these people will see that their contribution is recognized by management and they have a great future with the organization.”
In the past, Edwards observed, high-potential employees were often provided with coaching. “But now it’s positioned as ‘leadership development,’ even if the substance is in some ways the same as coaching. Being designated an emerging ‘leader’ may have more holding power than merely being assigned a coach.”
“It’s critical for organizations, if they haven’t done so, to assess their people and identify the top performers,” Edwards warned. “Management must find out who they are and what they contribute, and at the same time learn what they want from the company so that they may do their jobs with commitment. Leadership development plays a pivotal role in the process.”
Targeting high performers also makes sense for organizations at a time when training and development resources are at a premium, believes Edwards. “It would be ideal if more employees had development opportunities, but when capital is being rationed at many companies this isn’t possible.”
Leadership programs, added Edwards, always evolve according to shifting business needs. “More companies today see the need to make their leadership development global in scope. So there’ll be more emphasis on innovation, adaptability and problem solving. Likewise, leadership curricula will put more emphasis on financial acumen. Future leaders, we’ve learned, have to cultivate fiscal sanity.”
All employees want opportunities to grow, Edwards said, but given the limited resources companies find they make their T&D investments carefully with an eye on greater return. “That’s why leadership programs are the fastest growing segment in the field.”
About American Management Association/Corporate Learning Solutions
With more than 85 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a leading provider of comprehensive leadership, management and talent development. AMA’s specialized division, Corporate Learning Solutions, partners with corporations and government agencies to provide results oriented training solutions that are aligned with business, culture and workforce strategies.