ATD Blog

Employee Career Development Is Good Business

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Employers often say that they can't find good people. While certain skills may be in higher demand than others, this statement overlooks the key fact that employers already have a lot of good people—their existing employees. But many employees think that there’s no room to advance at their companies. Up to 87 percent of surveyed Millennials said that they wanted their jobs to be development opportunities. One main reason people leave their jobs is because they feel bored and unchallenged. Another reason is because they want better opportunities to use their skills and develop their talents. Here's how employers and employees can shift that conversation away from an impasse to one of mutual benefit:

Meaningful Conversations About the Future of the Company

If employees know the direction of the company for the next two to five years, then different kinds of performance evaluations can occur. Instead of limiting the yearly or semi-annual performance review of things that have happened, orient the conversation to contributions employees are making to the company's goals, especially if they are outside their main job responsibilities. It helps build expertise in future requirements and helps train employees for promotions. A good strategic plan identifies objectives, milestones, and critical functions. Once these elements are known, you can identify skill deficiencies and projected skill needs. As this information comes to light, you can create appropriate supports (training, mentoring, job shadowing, and so on) to help meet those needs.

Real Conversations About Career Paths

Too often employers aren't frank with their employees about the totality of skills and experience the employer needs for certain positions. Without relevant information, employees can't seek out appropriate experience, expand needed skills, and develop corresponding networks. When there are honest discussions about the kinds of experience, attitude, questions of fit, skills, and related behaviors, employees are in a better position to understand what they need to do to advance. One option is to help employees understand a career lattice as opposed to a career ladder—that is, help employees identify multiple paths to the same position.


Employers Have a Responsibility to Invest 

To leave all professional development to employees is negating the employer's responsibility to the company. The survival and future prosperity of the business is management's duty. To fulfill this mandate, employers need to take the perspective of a gardener: always sowing seeds for the future. This means offering employees opportunities for professional development, job shadowing opportunities, formal and informal mentoring, and other relevant support to ensure that their employees remain engaged, thriving, and willing to continue their own development. When employers develop their own talent, not only are they saving money because they have lower turnover rates, but they are also developing their own internal leadership capabilities. Strong leadership skills are essential in thriving and innovative organizations.


Employers Have a Responsibility To Culture 

If management is down or negative about finding good employees, it is actually talking down the existing staff. In turn, morale drops and current employees aren't as interested in developing their skills, expanding their experiences, and working toward the future of the company. Build an excellent corporate culture and your current employees will go the extra mile to contribute. Not only that, all sorts of talent will come knocking. A strong corporate culture “defines the proper way to think, act and behave within an organisation.” Training programs, clear performance management systems, and educating organization leadership are just some ways of ensuring a thriving corporate culture.

By shifting the conversation between employees and employers, companies can take a longer view of employee development by recognizing and supporting the talent they already have. Nothing is more empowering than knowing that you are the agent of your future. It is in the interest of employers to convey that employees have a future with them and that the employer will work with employees to ensure their continued development.

About the Author

Renée Gendron is a developer of professionals and a business builder. For more than 10 years, Renée has been a student of the economy and larger economic trends and the challenges they pose to leaders and entrepreneurs. Renée works with professional associations, businesses, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to help them hone their skills. Her training is skills-based and focuses on providing practical advice and tips that professionals can directly implement in their work to improve their effectiveness. Renée’s work centers on workplace leadership, conflict, and self-leadership. She can be reached on FacebookTwitter and Google+, her website and by email [email protected].

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