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Apr 03 2023
Accomplishment Based Talent Development


Thomas F. Gilbert , one of the great thought leaders on whose work our Performance Thinking models and logic are based, emphasized that to improve, lead, or manage organizational or business performance, we should focus on what he called “valuable accomplishments” rather than “costly behavior.” 

Accomplishments are the things that individuals, teams, and processes contribute to their organizations, while supporting the behavior needed to produce them is costly.  We hire, train and manage people so they will learn and exhibit the behavior needed to produce accomplishments. We give them tools and support, as needed, pay them, and engage them in ongoing development. These are all costly investments.  One of Gilbert’s big ideas was that the worth of any given effort to improve or develop performance is equal to the value of the accomplishments it enables people to produce divided by the cost do develop the behavior for producing them. A simple ROI calculation. Most leaders and talent development professionals do not think this way, even when investing in expensive training and taking people off the job to complete it. But focusing on the accomplishments we expect of people can help us stay aware of what it costs to enable productivity, and perhaps to calculate relative costs of different approaches (e.g., training vs. job aids with coaching) when we decide how to develop people.

When we define accomplishments as “work outputs” – countable things that deliver value to the organization or society – we can list a range of possibilities. They include tangible deliverables or quantifiable transactions. The might also include important decisions, new ideas, valuable relationships, or recommendations. For trainers, coaches and managers, accomplishments should include people who can do or produce something valuable at the end of training or as a result of effective management or coaching.

When we create job profiles based on the important accomplishments of the job, we can drive the entire process of talent development based on value delivered. We can create better behavioral interviewing questions and performance tests, based on accomplishments new hires will need to produce. We can on-board people based on what they need to produce in the first days, weeks and months on the job. We can design accomplishment-based training, as Dr. Joe Harless taught us to do. And we can place people into an ongoing cadence of accomplishment-based coaching with their managers focused on what they need to produce on the job, for upcoming projects or perhaps for the next job on their career path.

Focusing on accomplishments makes the job of monitoring and measuring performance much easier, because we can count “good” ones.  And the value of accomplishments might help us to quantify the salary increases we offer people at the end of the year.

All in all, an accomplishment-based approach to ongoing talent development is more sure-footed, easier to monitor, and more clearly focused on the value the organization needs its people to deliver.

-      - Carl Binder, CEO


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