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Talent Can Develop or Depart: It’s YOUR Call

You plan for your organization to still be in business in five or ten years, so everything done today is being implemented with an eye toward the future. When it comes to your employees it means shaping the direction of their careers in alignment with organizational goals.


That might have been true when employees had long careers with the same employer. Today the activity of employee development is largely ignored, or ends up being a box to be checked when someone attends a training program. A flyer about a workshop might cross your desk so you mention as an afterthought, “You should check into this. I think it might help you in your job.”

This offhand approach is the best way to squander the talent you have and lose the young talent you want to keep.

How much time do YOU spend thinking about the development of your employees?

How much time do you estimate your boss spends thinking about YOUR professional development?
There are many voices that say career development is on the shoulders of the individual. That’s true. You should be invested in your own professional evolution. However, it is also part of a TRUE manager’s job. A TRUE manager gets work done through others and is actively involved in the process of training, mentoring, coaching, providing developmental feedback, and talking to their employees. A FALSE manager rolls up their sleeves, does a lot of work, tells people what to do, and then is either pleased or disappointed at the result – and reacts accordingly.

A FALSE manager is very, very concerned about their own career. A TRUE manager is concerned about their career but just as concerned about the careers of their employees – and acts accordingly. They know that employee development reflects positively on them and their ability to leverage the talents and skills of their people.

Have you noticed that many employees (top talent and young managers) are involved in an ongoing, never-really-resting job hunt? Many exits can be linked directly to the lack of development they find where they work. Top people have little problem getting the key assignments so it’s not visibility. Many employees can receive more work assignments so it’s not increased responsibility they are seeking. It’s the lack of coaching and training that will send people looking for exactly that – with another employer.


The Focus is on NOW
When I started in the Training & Development field, there were curriculum and skill standards for positions, catalogs listing course offerings for benchmarked skills, and competencies evaluated on an annual basis (in addition to seasonal and just-in-time program opportunities). Today few organizations plan further out than three or four months. Managers are focused on the day-to-day and the current state of turmoil while the development need and long term activities are seen as having less (immediate) payback.

The Focus is Lost
The idea of an employee development plan seems confusing and takes a lot of considered thought and time to complete. Managers are happy just to get the annual performance review conversation out of the way. A development conversation with identified training programs, performance management conversations and follow-up on the part of the manager may not be something a manager knows how to do, let alone has the discipline or focus to do with every employee on a regular and on-going basis.

Too Busy
When a manager tells me they have too much work to do, I nod understandingly. There is always something more important than employee development. I then share with them my understanding of the job they are doing (Employee) versus the job they have (Manager) and the confusion that exists. If too much work is getting in the way of developing your employees, than you are not allocating your time so that you can manage people properly. TRUE managers understand that development is a priority and a main focus of their job so they make time for it.

If you are truly interested in someone’s future, they notice. Most if not all employees assume Human Resources is interested in employee development, and that is critical, a good thing, and expected. But if the manager is also showing genuine interest in their future development and the conversations are there to prove it, employees have observable proof that there is another person who is thinking about what happens to them. Talent often wants to advance and likes to be supported in the process. People generally like becoming valuable to the organization. Development is tangible evidence of that support. If your organization doesn’t provide it, your talent will find it somewhere else.  And the price that is paid is higher than you may think – estimates are that turnover costs 150% of the salary to replace that employee who left.

Loyalty is built over time. Employees who are loyal tend to be more engaged. Engaged employees tend to be more productive. Ultimately, that’s what everyone wants.

Don’t just take my word for it. Gallup recently released “The State of the American Workforce” and has this to say about professional development.

“The world’s top-performing organizations start engaging employees from the minute they show up on the first day. These organizations have well-defined and comprehensive leader and manager development programs, but they also go one step further — they fully integrate employee engagement into these programs. They take leaders’ and managers’ development seriously, and focus on the development of individuals and teams. Employee engagement is a fundamental consideration in their people strategy.”

Development does NOT have to be a glossy training course catalog that lists program offerings. It does not have to be an expensive investment in getting employees to programs that are only offered in large cities with expensive hotels (and little back-on-the-job support).

Development can be focused by providing a training program on a critical skill like Polished Presentations, a key managerial competency like Creative Coaching, or the ability to be proactive in communication with Tackling Hard Conversations. Development can be ongoing by providing feedback, guidance, and support by creating a coaching culture where employees improve.

The best development ambassadors are the Supervisors, Managers, Directors, Vice Presidents, Executives, CEO’s, and COO’s who coach their direct reports on a regular basis. The one-on-one time to connect, understand, and help an employee close the gap between their skill and the need that exists is the best development there is.

Employee development does not usually provide immediate results. People display small increases in effectiveness and over time those small increases add up and have an impact on the organization’s bottom line for profit.  If employee development is done well, the return on your investment will be huge. Show employees that their growth has a direct link to your business results.

Without it, the costs will be huge.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013 at 12:54 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.