The Keys to Employee Development

Building the perfect team for your organization is challenging; keeping that team engaged, productive, and growing can be even more difficult.  Studies show that 70% of Americans feel stagnant in their current position and plan to seek positions elsewhere in order to ensure their own professional development. While setting aside time to understand and implement employee development strategies can be difficult, it is key in retaining the best and brightest employees.

Employee development planning is an opportunity to empower individual growth that is in line with future organizational goals. It not only allows you the opportunity to improve retention, organizational commitment, and plan for your organization’s future, but it increases employee satisfaction and can increase employee performance by as much as 25%.  Most aspects of employee development are already part of your daily responsibilities as a manager, and simply emphasizing a few key areas can spur employee development without increasing your time commitment.

Three of the most powerful ways to improve employee development are through adequate explanation of performance evaluation standards (this includes feedback on both strengths and weaknesses of employee performance), ensuring projects provide on-going learning, and providing new experiences that allow for employee growth.

There is no key to the perfect employee strategy but these specific strategies can help to reinforce employee development when integrated into the day-to-day activities of a workplace:

Coaching and Mentorship.  While up to 70% of employees feel disengaged in the workplace, studies show that those who feel satisfied with their positions often cite management as the reason. When employees see members of management as mentors and coaches, they are more likely to push themselves, resulting in additional success, development, and satisfaction for the individual and increased productivity for the organization.

Opportunities Outside Normal Expectations.  Organizations are often compartmentalized, leaving employees feeling there is little room to grow beyond their current position or department. Creating opportunities for cross training, shadowing, and position rotation within your organization empowers employees to see beyond their specific responsibilities and encourages productivity and teamwork. Additional activities can include conference or event attendance and stretch assignments, pushing your employees outside their comfort zone to encourage the development of new skills.

Individual Development Plans.  Implementing effective employee development begins with knowing your employees and your organization. These plans should focus on what your employee needs to meet their career goals and what they need to learn in order to take on additional responsibility. Develop a strategy together that identifies learning objectives within existing assignments, formulates new assignments that build on their abilities, and increases their ability to contribute more in the future.

No matter your industry, employee development is an invaluable tool that can increase productivity, organizational commitment, and retention. The Center for Creative Leadership suggests that the best place to begin when creating your strategy is the Employee Development Philosophy of 70/20/10. 70% learning from experiences, 20% learning from others, and 10% learning from training and education. Meaningful experiences are critical to enhancing individual capabilities and strategically planned employee development can be used not only to facilitate learning but can create a more positive and productive workplace.

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