Get All Access for $5/mo

3 Outside-the-Box Strategies to Keep Your Talent Development Plan Relevant Putting people in a room doesn't make them a team, and calling one the manager doesn't make them the single accepted leader.

By Jeff Boss Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

FS Productions | Getty Images

When I was going through selection and training for my last SEAL team, one of the first things the instructors did was replace senior officers with mid-level enlisted members. One of the reasons why they did this was to illustrate that when you limit your thinking to inside the box, you're confined to the box. In other words, don't be afraid to create your own box, think and be different. If we had followed the typical military hierarchy, we never would've discovered (1) the latent talent that resided within the team or (2) who was capable and who wasn't.

As a leadership and team advisor, I see inside-the-box thinking stifle talent and development plans in companies—if such plans exist at all. Without a "people plan," there's no telling how your company will survive. What normally happens is the urgency of today presides over the importance of tomorrow, and anything "soft" gets a budget cut. However, without (the right) people in your company, there will be no company. Here are three considerations to keep your company's talent development plan relevant:

Related: Focus on Your Top Talent for Maximum Staff Development ROI

1. Question the current trajectory.

Sometimes people are promoted to manager because they were exceptional individual contributors. The assumption is that he or she will be just as good at managing people, too. However, the truth is that many challenges I see in teams stem from individual contributors turned team leaders, managers or members who don't know how to play nice with others. Just because Joe was a rock star individual performer doesn't mean he can lead or manage a team. Be sure to assess whether the next career step for that person is the right step for them and for the company.

Related: 5 Questions You Must Ask to Keep Your Best and Brightest Talent

2. Give them a guide.

Continuing with the Joe example, it's not safe to assume that if Joe is promoted to a manager that he'll somehow get his team aligned and rowing in the same direction. This is perhaps the second biggest problem I see in teams today: the expectation that if people are thrown together that they'll spontaneously become a team. The fact is, teams don't just happen. It takes a lot of work to go from working as a group to working as a well-oiled machine.

Additionally, don't assume a team is led by a single individual. Leadership isn't reserved for a single person. Instead, leadership in teams rotates to the person closest to the problem because that person is the one who has the greatest context to solve that problem. Give your people a guide they can loosely follow. I say guide rather than roadmap because a guide connotes an openness to experimentation whereas a roadmap is more prescriptive (and no two teams are the same).

Related: How Small Companies Can Cultivate Homegrown Senior Development Talent

3. Share decision criteria.

In companies where political knife-fighting is the preferred method of engagement, conversations tend to circle around who's right rather than what's right. This is perhaps the fastest way to destroy trust -- by pointing fingers, making accusations and avoiding personal responsibility. Remember that without information, people tend to create their own realities and come to their own conclusions which may or may not (mostly not) be accurate.

One way to mitigate this is to share the decision criteria upon which a promotion is based. When people understand the rationale that went into making such a decision, they naturally reflect on themselves and how they compare, which is a great conversational opportunity.

A talent development plan shouldn't be etched in stone. It should change based on the internal and external environments of the company in order to keep people -- and business -- thriving.

Jeff Boss

Leadership Team Coach, Author, Speaker

Jeff Boss is the author of two books, team leadership coach and former 13-year Navy SEAL where his top awards included four Bronze Stars with valor and two Purple Hearts. Visit him online at www.jeff-boss.com

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.