I had a great conversation the other day with Allessandria Polizzi. Who has had an interesting career working with a variety of organizations including 7-Eleven and Pizza Hut. We talked about the industry, talent management, her exciting new venture and the upcoming “Silver Tsunami”. Here are some of the highlights.
Kapp: You have been in the field of Learning and Development and Talent Development for a number of years, what types of projects do you find the most interesting and challenging?
Polizzi: I enjoy projects that look across the entire needs of the business, particularly those that solve a pain point for people or make their lives easier. This is why I like focusing my efforts on organizational effectiveness, which enables the business across multiple areas of need. Recently, for example, I worked with an organization that initially wanted a training intervention but, upon further understanding of the business, we determined that they needed a holistic approach for developing both leaders and employees, as well as an end-to-end solution for selecting and onboarding.
Kapp: You must have seen a great deal of change in those 15 years in the field, can you give us some perspective of where you think the field is headed?
Polizzi: I think businesses are demanding that the learning function become more holistic and focused not just on core business outcomes but on the impact they have on employee engagement and retention. With talent pools shrinking, the costs of employee recruitment growing and the line between internal and external branding blurring, talent development is a proven driver of improvement in all of these areas. In order to leverage this opportunity to drive significant impact, solutions need to be simple, pragmatic, and reflective of the organizational culture in which they reside. With that in mind, I think it’s a great time for talent development!
Kapp: You have just a consultancy called Verdant Consulting, can you tell us some of the services you provide and some of the neat projects you’ve undertaken.
Polizzi: Verdant means growth, and that is the focus of my business. We provide end-to-end talent solutions to help businesses thrive. This includes talent planning, performance management, leadership development and change management and sustainability. This last piece is one of the most important parts of our business because we focus heavily on making change stick. To that end, I host a podcast for our listeners to hear stories of change and transformation to learn from, as well as supplemental content that enables their development.
We have been fortunate to work with a wide variety of clients, from start-ups, to small and mid-sized businesses, to retailers and restaurateurs, to nonprofits. What I enjoy most about working with my clients is providing them simple solutions that solve problems. I just love it when that light bulb goes on, and you know you have made a difference!
Kapp: We’ve discussed the concept of the “Silver Tsunami” what is that and how is it going to impact talent development in organizations.
We are in a generational transition. The boomers are getting ready to retire in the next few years and people of my generation haven’t filled in behind them. Plus, millennials are entering the workforce at a large volume (both in numbers and in the ability to articulate their needs). With this shift, we are seeing a big impact to business culture, career development expectations and the overall definitions of work/life. Beyond the hype of adding toys and games (no offense), talent development professionals need to understand how to provide the developmental opportunities this new population requires.
Kapp: If you were giving advise to someone just entering into the field of talent development, what would you say?
Polizzi: Balance academics with pragmatics. I have seen too many people apply what they learn in a literal way vs. taking what’s valuable and customizing it for their own unique situations. Talent development is as much of an art as it is a science.
Secondly, I would highly encourage anyone entering this field to learn the basics of marketing and change management. Cultural branding is critical to the success of the talent within the organization and driving sustained change that includes development will make the work we do more impactful (and therefore more valued and more fun).