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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Coaching for Career Development and Retention of Top Talent

Coaching for Career Development and Retention of Top Talent

It’s a fact that everyone wants the “best of the best” talent at their organization. Much attention, effort, and investment of significant time and money is given to finding and recruiting high performers.

Sadly, what often follows is the common scenario in which business leaders hire people they believe in and then sit back to see what they can do. However, growing and retaining strong talent requires leaders who can develop their people, not just manage them.

Example: A Coaching Program for Employee Development and Retention

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is a well-known global brand in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer health products. It consistently ranks among the Fortune 100. J&J relies heavily on its talented workforce to innovate and maintain its competitive edge.

Even with such a strong market position, J&J faced employee retention and development challenges. High turnover rates and employee feedback indicated a need for clearer career progression paths and more support in professional development.

To address these issues, J&J invested in training a group of internal coaches, including experienced managers, HR professionals, and external coaching experts. These coaches were trained in advanced coaching techniques to effectively support employees.

Following a successful pilot, their coaching program was expanded globally. All employees were given access to coaching resources, with a strong emphasis on participation and engagement.

Investing in Employee Development is No Longer Optional

Here are just a few of the positive outcomes J&J saw after the first 18 months of the program:

  • Improved Employee Engagement—Employees felt more supported and valued, with clear development paths and opportunities for growth, and employee engagement scores improved significantly.

  • Increased Skill Development—Employees were able to develop new skills more effectively, leading to better performance and the ability to take on more complex responsibilities.

  • Reduced TurnoverEmployee turnover rate decreased by 22%.

  • Strengthened Leadership Pipelinethe program successfully prepared numerous employees for leadership roles, creating a strong pipeline of future leaders who were ready to drive J&J’s strategic initiatives

Coaching Strategies to Develop and Retain Top Talent

Large or small organizations can benefit from coaching to develop the careers of their employees better and retain the top talent needed to grow and thrive.

Coaching to develop and retain top talent involves a strategic approach that focuses on individual growth and aligning it with organizational goals. Here are some key strategies you can use with those you lead:

  • Create Personalized Development Plans for Every Employee

These plans can include career goals, skill assessments, and tailored strategies for achieving professional growth. When employees have personalized development plans or areas they want to improve upon, coaching sessions become valuable.

It's an opportunity for leaders to provide guidance, support, and resources tailored to individual needs.

  • Encourage and Reward Coaching Over Managing

Employees prefer to be uniquely coached rather than generally managed.

This means providing specific feedback on what they’ve done well to reinforce positive behaviors, recognizing their achievements, and making them feel valued.

  • Focus on Strengths for Higher ROI

Instead of spending excessive time on improving weaknesses, focus on enhancing strengths. This approach can lead to significant improvements (up to 10X) compared to minor improvements in weaknesses (about 10%).

Share insights with your employees on their top talents and discuss strategies to leverage their strengths.

5 Practical Ways to Help Salespeople Build On Their Strengths

  • Provide Continuous Development

Ensure development doesn’t stop after onboarding. Promote a learning culture where employees are encouraged and given access and support to pursue ongoing education, certifications, and skill development.

Continue development through regular check-ins, celebrating milestones, and setting new growth goals. Implement programs like 360 Executive Strength Coaching to help leaders realize their potential.

  • Think of Investment in Employees as a Multiplier

Recognize that while talent and fit are crucial, investment in your employees is what truly drives performance and growth.

Use the Growth Formula: (Talent + Fit) x Investment = Growth. This means continuously investing in your employees through training, coaching, and development opportunities.

  • Encourage a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that one's abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and input from others, as opposed to a fixed mindset, which assumes that talents and abilities are static and unchangeable.

With a growth mindset, individuals are more likely to embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism, and find inspiration in others' success—all of which lead to higher performance.

Using the Word "YET"

One of my colleagues, a former leader in the national media industry with a long tenure of success, shared the power of focusing a staff meeting on growth mindset every year with the great TED talk on growth mindset with Carol Dweck.

The entire staff used “yet” at the end of many sentences and hung the word “YET” all over the office. This was a culture game changer for their team and their productivity.

Check out the Ted Talk

Here’s hoping the stories and strategies above inspire you to harness the power of coaching to develop and retain your most valuable resourceyour employees.

360 Executive Strength Coaching

Topics: sales coaching employee development employee retention