Unlock Employee Development with the Talent Card ®

by Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D.

February 21, 2022BlogDevelopment

Higher revenues, company growth, aspirational vision — the fastest way to accomplish all of these goals is through your employees.  

Employee development is essential for the long-term success of organizations (Jacobs & Washington 2003). Employees who feel they are being developed will produce at a higher rate than those who do not (Hassell, 2022). Furthermore, 87 percent of Millennials say “professional or career growth and development opportunities are important to them in a job” (Adkins & Rigoni, 2016). Unfortunately, only 29 percent of organizations have a clear learning development plan for their employees (Waters, 2021).

Knowing these statistics, why do leaders struggle to develop their employees?  

Leaders must take the time to understand their employees’ individual strengths and weaknesses, and their unique long-term aspirations. So, how do leaders assess these aspects of their employees? First, they must use a talent assessment to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Second, they are encouraged to have one-on-one career development discussions focused on their unique career aspirations. This article will focus specifically on recognizing talent and goal setting by using talent assessments.  

Assessments that evaluate employee strengths and weaknesses are essential to understanding the whole employee. Most selection and development tools focus on the skills, knowledge, and experience of employees. While these are important to know and understand, our research shows, that they account for only about 50 percent of the variance in employee productivity. For a complete picture of the employee, the key for leaders is to use a talent-based assessment. Talent assessments examine the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of employees, including traits such as “relationship-orientation,” “focus,” “learning agility” and “persuasion.” When a leader understands these talents — the foundational, unique strengths of the employee — a leader can use them to maximize their success and their contribution to the organization.  

Use assessments to understand and maximize the unique strengths of an employee, and coach them by using the feedback from the assessments. Talent Plus offers over 70 talent assessments tailored for specific industries and roles.

Celebrate Your Employees’ Talents 

Leaders can focus on development with yearly goal-setting sessions with each of their direct reports. The goals should represent each person’s aspirations and ought to come in two main flavors: (1) based on the employee’s talent and (2) on their knowledge and skills. When leaders want to get the most of their employees, they also focus on their strengths.  

Use assessments to understand and maximize the unique strengths of an employee, and coach the employee using the feedback from the assessments. Talent Plus offers talent assessments for various industries and every level of employee. Let’s focus on front-line healthcare workers for now. 

For example, Talent Plus offers the Non-Clinical Healthcare Professional Talent Online ® Assessments (TOA). Those employees in healthcare who are not patient-facing would complete this TOA. Each of the TOA’s questions is associated with one of 10 talent themes. Once completed, the leader and the employee have access to a report that celebrates the employee’s top 5 talent themes presented as the Talent Card ®. From a strengths-based approach, the Talent Card focuses on the employee’s greatest strengths and on how to grow each one. Now, it is key that the leader (and employee) focus on developing those strengths.

Below is an example of a Talent Card: 

As you can see, the Talent Card presents the employee’s top 5 talent themes. In this case, they are: Achiever, Positivity, Resilience, Mission and Learner. Although all ten themes contribute to employees’ overall talent, and as our research shows, these five themes contribute about 75-80% of their overall strengths; therefore, by focusing on these five strengths, the leader and employee will see a greater return on their investment. 

Now comes the important part!

Create goals by using each of the top 5 strengths. The Talent Card guides the way for the leader to create the goals.

The Talent Card is automatically generated inside of TalentBank ® for individuals who complete a Talent Online Assessment (TOA). Our proprietary software, TalentBank, is built to provide managers and employees with the visibility and resources they need recognize, engage, accelerate and lead natural talent. 

Within the TalentBank, you can click on one of the themes to expand the Talent Card, revealing two sections (each with three points). The first is “how this talent may be exhibited in their work,” and the second is “how to grow this talent.” 

Using the “grow this talent” section, the leader asks the employee, “which one of the three points most resonates to you as an area of opportunity?” That is, which one of the statements does the employee want to focus on to grow, and why?  

After the employee selects the statement that they want to focus on, encourage them to follow these three points: 

  1. Form a goal around that statement. Formulate a relevant, timely (within a year) and attainable goal. 
  2. Create a measurable outcome. This is key. For the goal to be successful, there must be a measurement. “Trying harder” is not enough. 
  3. Two to four process steps to reach the goal. That is, what are the key steps to create a successful goal. 

It is important that the leader also have the employee submit to them their goals for review. In many cases, employees and leaders utilize goal-setting activities for remedial reasons (like improving a certain skill) and fail to create a specific goal with a measurable outcome. Leaders are encouraged to have follow-up quarterly meetings with their employee to monitor the success of their goal-setting meeting. 

With this process — having employees identify their strengths through a TOA, and developing their strengths through the Talent Card — employees have an opportunity to grow their strengths and have a more rewarding career.  

This article focused on both the importance of understanding strengths and how to use the Talent Card. As always, Talent Plus is here to help!  


If you have questions about you or your team’s Talent Cards or you want to learn more,



Scott C. Whiteford, Ph.D. is the Director of Leadership Analytics at Talent Plus where his role is to partner with, listen to and find solutions for our clients, their teams and organization. With an emphasis on strengths, through selection and development, he helps our clients find success on their Talent-Based Journey.

“I focus on the strength management approach to help grow leaders and improve team and organization cultures.” – Scott Whiteford

Talents: Relationship, Ego Drive, Focus, Conceptualization and Intelligence