Can Resource Groups Become Your Company’s Talent Development Engines?


Is your company looking for talent development engines? If so, you might have a possibility already built into your organization.

Even though organizations invest billions upon billions into leadership development every fiscal year, there are very few of them that actually think they’re doing a good job of keeping up with growing global demands. However badly organizations might need talent development engines, though, the answer might be right in front of them. Employee resource groups could be the answer. Often just known as ERGs, they’re also sometimes known as business resource groups or BRGs.

There is some research indicating that more than 400 of the Fortune 500 businesses had instituted ERGs as early as 2011. That same research showed that companies who were using ERGs to develop talent were outperforming those that weren’t. This success was measured objectively across many categories, not limited to but including employee satisfaction, consumer and client satisfaction, revenue, profitability, and market share. The real winners in any sector are leveraging their ERGs as powerful platforms for experiential learning, and any resources and man-hours invested into this is paying back great dividends.

The first step in doing all of this is identifying the specific leadership skills that need to be instilled and/or enhanced in anyone chosen for leadership or talent development. The best way to do this is perhaps not even to involve the development candidate just yet. Instead, there should be a meeting between the development team and the candidate’s supervisor. A direct supervisor of the candidate should know them well and work the candidate closely enough to know what their strengths and weaknesses are, so that one or several different traits, talents, or skills might be chosen as areas of future growth.

The second step involves the candidate observing the chosen skillset in action for themselves. This is where they should be associated with a group mentor or sponsor that is widely thought of as someone proficient in said skill. Having said that, the mentor should be approached before the introduction, so they can be told about what’s going on. They should only assume a tutor role if they are actually comfortable with it.

Once a candidate is associated with a willing mentor and spends some time ‘shadowing’ them, they need to then role-play various scenarios involving the particular skill they are being developed for. This should not only be done on an individual or mentor basis, but also across the entire ERG or BRG.

Candidates need to get feedback on their performance when they do role-playing. Many different people can offer observations in this particular stage, although the mentor should be deferred to in most cases. This feedback, when constructive and accepted by the candidate, can form a platform for skill growth. It should even let the candidate assume stronger responsibilities in the actual workplace.

As a final step, there needs to be some kind of support bridging that gets the candidate launched on their own with their new skills. At this point, the candidate themselves might be a good mentor, as they know the process and believe in its value. However, it’s also smart to consider running the same candidate through the process again just for different skills for more comprehensive development.

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