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4 Ways to Cultivate Talent in Your Teams

AT&T helps millions of customers connect with entertainment, mobile, high-speed Internet, and voice services.

Employing nearly 300,000 people worldwide, AT&T is committed to both hiring and shaping talent. AT&T University, an executive-taught leadership development program in the company’s Dallas headquarters, trains emerging leaders through in-house and satellite campuses across the U.S.

But AT&T needs more than just training; it needs innovation. So, in partnership with Georgia Tech and Udacity, Inc., AT&T created the first-ever Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree and self-paced, fast-track technical credentials called Nanodegrees across web and mobile development, data analytics, and tech entrepreneurship.

“We can’t depend on just hiring and the traditional educational system as sources for retooling or finding new talent,” said corporate communications manager Marty Richter. “We’re focused on aligning company leaders to strategic business innovation and results, skilling and re-skilling our 280,000 employees and inspiring a culture of continuous learning.”

Great managers are organized, courageous, and encouraging. But to maximize the team potential, they need another critical skill: finding and developing talent.

Strategy, Soft Skills, and Coaching


The ability to see and unlock talent is crucial to running a top-notch team.

But growing talent is not always easy. It may fly in the face of traditional hiring practices or may require you to go against your gut when evaluating current employees.

As you look to maximize the impact of your team, here are four steps to consider:

1. Plan Strategically

While individual employees are often asked where they see themselves in five years, few leaders project how they’d like to build their team in that same time-frame.

Most leaders are good at recognizing potential, but they rarely think ahead on long-term staffing. If you know the areas of your organization that need the most help, focus efforts on strategic long-term staffing to make it happen.

What skills, abilities, or experiences will your next employees need? Dream it today so you can hire it tomorrow!

2. Focus on Soft Skills, Not Expertise

Did you know that the World Economic Forum predicts 65% of today’s jobs will no longer exist in 15 years?

Often when people look for talent (either in or outside our company), they put too much emphasis on performance or expertise. But since we can’t know what tomorrow’s challenges will be, the most important skills aren’t technical abilities. Emotional intelligence, a passion for learning, and the ability to relate with others are essential traits for future success.

3. Develop Talent Through Coaching


Good managers are invested coaches.

No matter how skilled your team is, continually look for ways to help them grow. This may mean offering on-going training opportunities, mentorships, or “baby steps” toward leadership. Do your leaders delegate parts of their job to younger professionals so people can learn side-by-side? Hands-on leadership training can increase employee engagement while infusing passion into your organizational DNA.

4. Evaluate as You Go


Often managers are the cap that reduces growth and creativity.

Does this sound like you? If so, why?

Perhaps you’re not sharing the load or challenging team members to grow. Provide employees with tools to assess professional goals and offer critical feedback to address poor performance or new responsibilities. Meet with other managers to assess progress regarding developing talent. And keep the dialogue flowing about business strategies and people’s individual roles within this vision.

Become the Chief Talent Agent


Great managers are also great talent agents.

The most important factor in your company’s future is your ability to recognize and develop potential. No other factor will make such a significant impact in shaping high performing teams!