Continuously searching for outside talent isn’t sustainable. Here’s what your talent strategy should be instead:

In today’s professional era, the right talent is an undeniable game-changer. You’ve heard the saying, “Everyone is replaceable.” But there are individuals whose impact is so profound that losing them could be a significant setback.

With the “Great Resignation,” many managers have experienced the challenges of losing high-performing employees, leading to a never-ending cycle of searching for outside talent.

It takes more than competitive pay and standard training to keep top talent. Progressive organizations and managers recognize the value of their current employees and have shifted focus to internal talent development as a key driver of business strategy and growth vs merely addressing talent shortages.

So, what’s the key to creating a sustainable, effective talent management system? Training managers as talent champions creates an environment where employees know their hard work is seen, appreciated, and rewarded. This cohesive ecosystem promotes a win-win for employers and employees.

Table of Contents

The critical role of managers as talent champions

-How to build and retain top talent from within?

-Manager Testimonial success seen first hand

How to harness talent within your company

The critical role of managers as talent champions

Managers significantly influence an employee’s decision to stay with or leave an organization. McKinsey sheds light on one reason why this is-

“Seventy-nine percent of frontline employees say a lack of career advancement is the #1 factor motivating them to leave their employer.”

This implies the solution isn’t expensive recruiting or generic team-building activities. Transitioning from a “supervisor”  to a “talent champion” mindset can significantly improve talent retention and align your employees’ aspirations with your company’s needs.

Talented people always have the option to leave, so it’s important that your managers are the reason they want to stay, not a factor driving them to explore other opportunities.



How to build and retain top talent from within

Managers must act as facilitators to maintain the link between an employee’s growth and the company’s goals. This involves recognizing and aligning individual potential with the company’s business objectives.

A crucial part of making this connection and implementing an effective talent management system is taking a hands-on approach to an employee’s career development. Periodic training and occasional feedback hardly scratch the surface of genuine employee connection from managers. The secret to implementing this successful strategy is giving employees opportunities to evolve, ensuring they feel valued, and providing growth guidance.


Here are a few ways to empower your managers to start acting as talent champions:

1. Provide ongoing leadership training and opportunities to expand skill sets.

This involves ensuring managers have access to leadership training and other skill-building opportunities. These programs should offer practical labs where managers can actively practice new skills in simulated real-life scenarios, helping to reinforce and solidify their learning.

2. Giving managers access to real-time data.

This looks like helping managers tailor their 1:1s by providing real-time insights into individual strengths and areas for improvement. This personalized feedback provides actionable insights that ignite passion, purpose, and improved performance while playing nice with their current systems and processes.

3. Helping managers identify and prepare potential talent.

This includes teaching managers to proactively identify and nurture internal candidates showing potential for growth through skill-building and coaching. Forming this culture of internal recognition and support brands your company as a place employees want to stay and help fill company needs.


As for helping your managers build genuine connections with their employees? These dos and don’ts will make all the difference once put into practice.


  • Focus on training for future skills, such as critical thinking and data analytics, to prepare employees for evolving job demands.

As AI and tech become even more integral to operations, it’s important to go beyond basic training by providing resources that sharpen foundational skills like critical thinking, attentive listening, and time management, as well as providing opportunities for employees to train on new skills like data analytics or project management. With an environment that promotes perpetual growth, employees are better prepared to navigate today’s tasks and tomorrow’s challenges while feeling encouraged.

  • Clearly outline career pathways, offering visual roadmaps for employee growth within the company’s vision.

With 89% of Human resource leaders believing career paths are unclear, your company must offer a clear roadmap of opportunities. This helps your employees visualize how their aspirations fit the company’s vision. Communicating career advancement through formalized career paths, job rotations, or mentorship programs provides an energizing culture for employees, leading to increased satisfaction and retention. Implementing these personalized strategies is a powerful path to a new era of employee engagement and growth.

  • Offer accessible tools and resources to guide employees in aligning their goals with company opportunities.

It’s crucial to provide easily accessible and digestible tools, resources, and support to help your employees discover and navigate opportunities that resonate with their goals. Promoting and having these resources available shows your employees that their employer is genuinely invested in their growth and success within the organization. These resources can continue to serve your company’s needs and are easily scalable to offer a company culture where diverse career aspirations can flourish within the broader organizational landscape.


  • Overlook employee’s aspirations or willingness to learn, which can lead to disengagement and turnover.

With such a large percentage of employees stating they leave their current job because of a lack of career advancement opportunities, dismissing aspirations or eagerness to learn will undoubtedly lead to disinterest and, more than likely, a want to leave. If an employee comes to a manager with these aspirations, it’s a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge these goals and work with them to create a plan to reach them.

  • Miss opportunities to give authentic praise and recognition are crucial for building rapport and valuing employees.

Over time, without praise or acknowledgment, employees can feel resentful, and their commitment to their roles starts to fade. Finding opportunities to offer individual and authentic praise is one of the quickest ways to build a connection with an employee and make them feel valued.

  • Neglect following up on discussions and promises, as this can erode trust and employee motivation.

An empty promise from a manager can drive an employee away and make them feel undervalued and underappreciated. Following up after a 1:1 with probing questions, free resources, and encouragement is important. Act as an advocate for your employees and show them you’re dedicated to their growth and success.


Proven success seen firsthand

Christian Schrader was a rockstar Contact Center Team Lead at a large financial firm, managing a dynamic team of 18 customer service representatives. He quickly excelled in his role and liked being able to provide a great experience for people, but his career ambitions extended further. 

He expressed interest in learning project management and honing his leadership skills. His tuned-in manager took note and encouraged him to utilize the company’s continued education benefit, specifically Pathstream’s Project Management Certificate.

“My company is fantastic. They offer education benefits that cover expenses for schooling and certifications,” Christian said. “So I took the Project Manager Certificate through Pathstream, which was fully online. It started in January and just finished up about last month. My organization is an Agile-focused company. So for me, it was extremely beneficial to take this program.”

After completing the course, he immediately started applying his new knowledge to his current role, improving the onboarding process, delegating effectively, and clearly defining roles to help his team function to its full potential.

When asked about his goals for the future, Christian was eager to talk about his plans to grow within the company and is an advocate to his peers to lean into the education benefits provided by their employer.

“It’s crucial for employers to offer educational benefits. By investing in their employees’ learning, companies can astronomically increase retention rates because everyone aspires to grow professionally and learn continually.”

This is a powerful example of the positive impact successful talent management can have. Christian showed interest in learning new skills and wanting to grow with the company. His managers listened, encouraged, and supported him the entire way. As a result, he’s excelled in his current role, looks forward to moving up in the company, and encourages his peers to do the same.


Start harnessing your talent from within your company

Shifting your company’s focus from hiring outside talent to honing in on your internal talent will give you a competitive advantage in more areas than one. By creating a culture where internal growth is prioritized, genuine connections are fostered, and continual learning is encouraged, your company can stay ahead of the curve and pull ahead where others fall short.

Explore Pathstream’s Pathways Assessment to evaluate your current practices and develop a robust career-pathing strategy. We’re committed to helping you retain and empower talent. Access your free assessment [here] (insert link).

Ready to see how Pathstream can make a difference in your organization? Learn more about teaching your managers to act as talent champions and stop repeatedly spinning in circles, looking for outside talent.


Was this helpful?

Thanks! What made it helpful?

How could we improve this post?