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How to retain talent through learning and development

By Chris Burton


Increasingly, successful organisations understand that providing impactful development programs not only deliver performance benefits, it also provides a wonderful way to engage and retain staff who value learning and professional growth. But what does that look like in practise?



Many organisations use psychometric feedback tools as part of their professional or team development initiatives, for example, you might have a teamwork session that provides feedback about your team preferences or style. However, good feedback tools should be versatile enough that they can be re-framed to look at your work performance through multiple lenses and in multiple contexts. A learner might have good insights about how they work within teams, but what does the feedback tell them about their own individual work? Alternatively, the feedback might be great at helping an individual leader understand how to better collaborate with the different works styles of their teammates, but can it provide the entire team with reliable metrics to analyse their work processes?


To address how feedback informs our performance conversations, we can use a psychometric like the Team Management Profile (TMP) which was developed in Australia and used by more than two million people around the world. We know from the TMP worldwide database* that 51% of managers prefer to work in a systematic way on activities focused on immediate, tangible results. While that is not particularly negative, a problem arises when we compare the numbers of people who like to innovate and come up with new ideas (8%), or who like to focus on activities that ensure the sustainability of our work processes and organisational culture (2%). When we can understand the operational consequences of this disproportionate distribution of our work preferences, we can then make better decisions about our performance improvement strategies.



By extending the way that staff apply their learning to improve performance, we not only generate an economy of scale for the business, we also realise an economy of scope. The economy of scale occurs when we generate efficiencies by working with multiple people and supporting collaborative learning. The economy of scope occurs when we see that we reuse our learning resources to apply knowledge to other activities and contexts, providing us with the adaptability we need to compete in the 2020s.


Organisations keep their staff engaged with L&D initiatives by providing the workforce with new ways to apply and evolve their current knowledge in order to enhance how they work. And when the employees are increasingly capable of transferring their ideas into performance improvements, they achieve results more efficiently and contribute more to their teams. This, in turn, creates a multiplier effect, because when staff are generating good results in a continually improving, inclusive and results-focused environment, they are more inclined to be engaged and remain with the company.



How do you promote your professional development initiatives internally? Do you shine a light on the opportunities your staff have to improve their performance? Do you help foster an attitude of learning transfer and continuous improvement? By making the effort to evaluate the performance impact that your training has on your team, you can highlight the benefits to your staff and stakeholders. And this, in turn, will engage, stretch and retain staff.



Retention of key talent is always a hot topic for Australian managers. The Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand has a suite of diagnostic and development tools engineered to improve the ability of your organisation to retain talent and develop performance through improving self-awareness. If you would like to know more about the range of People Analytics tools available, please call 1300 362 631, email or visit

* Team Management Systems Research Manual (5th Edition), 2019. ITMS: Brisbane

Chris Burton is the Learning & Development Director, Asia-Pacific at Team Management Systems (TMS). He previously worked with Margerison and McCann for more than 20 years, is now an Executive Director and leads TMS’ Learning & Development Asia-Pac team as a programme facilitator and subject matter expert. An accomplished speaker and facilitator, Chris’s work spans from delivering keynotes at international conferences, to coaching boards and senior executives as well as delivering engaging, impactful workshops.


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