Creating a Talent Development Strategy: What We’ve Learned

War For Talent

Client driven. Forward-thinking. Powered by team. It’s this philosophy that makes M3 not only an impactful insurance broker for our clients, but also a trusted business advisor.

You see, our clients come to us for more than just insurance advice. We regularly provide our clients with access to our internal teams to encourage knowledge sharing and innovation on the corporate operations side.

One topic that our clients are consistently interested in is our talent development strategy. What many people aren’t aware of is that the insurance industry experienced the beginnings of its war for talent 10-15 years ago, when baby boomers began to retire. In order to grow and remain an independently-held broker, M3 needed to prioritize talent as a key strategy.

We’ve proven that we lead our industry in this area, generating next-gen interest in the world of insurance and creating an incubator for potential to turn into true talent.

Today, we’re breaking down the lessons that we share with our clients when we sit down to talk shop with them about talent development. We would never claim to know it all, but we’ve learned a lot over the past 50+ years – and today, we’re an open book.

What to know before creating talent development programs

The words “talent development program” alone might be overwhelming for you, especially if you’re a small business. Who has the time or resources to create an entire program?

Our biggest piece of advice is to start small. You do not need a department, comprehensive programs, or complex processes to accomplish your goals! A few small initiatives can have the effect of attracting and retaining talent for your organization, and helping your employees develop into even more effective members of your team.

However, to have the impact that you are hoping for, talent development will need to be a priority for at least one individual on your team. It does not need to be their whole job, but someone’s quarterly goals should include building out and maintaining talent development initiatives. Corporate goals that do not have an “owner” simply will not be accomplished!

So, start small, and put someone in charge of your talent development. When you’ve decided who that person should be, share this article with them and point them to the next section…

Strategies to create successful talent development

Talent development does not need to be difficult or complicated. At the core, you are simply identifying the skillsets your organization needs in its employees and providing learning and development opportunities for existing employees and new hires to attain and grow those skillsets. Below, you’ll find the talent development strategies that have allowed M3 to do just that:

Onboarding is low-hanging fruit

You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to talent development and retention if you focus your efforts on onboarding. One of the largest predictors of whether an employee will succeed and stay at your organization is their engagement over the first six months of their employment. If you can make a concerted effort to help them learn their role and your organization, you’re more likely to develop a top performing employee.

Our talent development team sees onboarding as more than just a few days of orientation and technical training for a person’s role. Instead, we see it as an opportunity to help employees see how their role fits into the bigger picture by sharing our strategies, mission and vision with them. We’ve learned that people want to be a part of a team that is bound together by this common knowledge.

By implementing your formal onboarding program to continuing to engage new employees from their first day, you’ll reap the rewards of this talent development strategy.

Lean into mentorship

Our talent development department has found that it’s one thing for “corporate” to tell employees what skillsets they should develop, what classes they should take, what organizations they should be involved with for networking, etc., and it’s another for our employees’ experience to be led by an individual who has walked the walk, someone who has been in the trenches.

While mentoring can happen on its own, providing structure to the experience can produce organizational results faster. And, if you think mentees are the only ones to benefit from the relationship, think again! Mentors report feeling more connected to the organization. Mentoring reminds them why they chose your organization in the first place, and why they love their career. It can provide a feeling of career growth even for those who may have already “reached the top”.

Develop a description of what you want a mentor’s role AND mentee’s role to be, including how each should be accountable for their relationship. Add on some brief training or discussion so mentors and mentees can discover ways to make their relationship mutually beneficial. A thought out mentorship program can be a powerful way to engage the next generation, transfer knowledge from experienced talent, and strengthen the performance of teams.

Launch an internship or career accelerator

In the war for talent, you need to have a two-pronged approach: 1) Find and recruit the MVPs, the experienced talent, and 2) Find and recruit the next generation of talent.

While developing an internship program is not the first step we would recommend tackling, advanced organizations should consider leveraging internship or career accelerator programs to recruit and retain the next generation.

M3’s internship program started with two interns so many years ago, growing every year since, and changing over time. But, at its core, our goal is to allow college students to get to know our industry and explore the diverse career opportunities available to them. With conversion rates over 50%, it is a significant recruitment tool for our organization.

M3YOU, our sales accelerator program has a slightly different goal. We know that insurance sales is not an entry-level career. Our consultants need experience in insurance. We also know we’re not going to find the volume of experienced talent that we need to grow M3 out in the marketplace at any given moment. M3YOU enables us to open up a candidate pool, look at merits and skill sets and then train up employees to build upon the skillsets they already have and the ones they need to build.

Our advice for starting an intern or accelerator program is once again to start small. Identify a team or two to pilot the program, then add an intern or new hire to their team to blend curriculum and field work experiences. Tailor the curriculum and experiences to your company’s culture and align to fill gaps and enhance the candidates skill set. After all, whether it is an intern or new hire, the goal is to attract and retain to succeed in your company.

Key Takeaways

  • Start small and don’t complicate it
  • Identify a point person
  • Leverage strong teams
  • Align with your organization’s goals

The war for talent is forcing employers to take a new look at their talent development efforts. As a trusted business advisor for our clients, M3 provides access to our talent development department for knowledge sharing on this topic. Using the strategies provided by our talent development team above, organizations can make significant strides in their goals to attract and retain top talent. To learn more about how M3 is positioning itself as an employer of choice, you can click here to explore our “Join Our Team” page.

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