Your employees may have the potential to do really great things, but you can’t expect them to bloom overnight. Developing talent takes time. Here’s some advice on how to get started:

Give employees a chance to focus

No one can explore his or her strengths while on a nonstop workplace marathon. Don’t overload employees with so much work that they can’t think about anything else: ideas, opportunities, skills they’d like to learn, and so forth.

Listen to employees

Probe employees about their accomplishments to pinpoint what they’re capable of and about their ambitions to find out what they want to do. Really listen to their responses to show that you take their development seriously.

Promote and support learning

Be on the lookout for training and development in your organization and externally. At the same time, urge your employees to embrace opportunities for learning wherever they find them: in training seminars, of course, but also in volunteer work, interdepartmental task forces, and challenging assignments.

Give lots of feedback

Employees can’t learn and grow unless they know what they’re doing right and wrong. Feedback and coaching should be a regular part of your routine. Keep it positive and constructive, with lots of specific examples, and offer ideas for improvement (without dictating solutions).

Learn from failure

Failure can represent a teaching moment if you handle it right. Focus on actions, not intentions and concentrate on solving the immediate problem and on identifying what the employee can do differently in the future.

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