Develop Employees

Wise companies in today’s competitive marketplace invest in their most valuable asset — their people. Talent management and the looming shortage of qualified management personnel are hot topics. Most senior managers identify finding, developing and retaining high-performing employees as a key challenge and priority.

The most successful high-growth companies support and promote a culture of learning and development. High-performing employees understand they need to continuously improve to maximize job performance, grow into new roles and responsibilities, and move up the corporate ladder. They also understand their worth and often leave companies who fail to support their development and career path.

How can a company foster employee development? One way is by providing direction and a personalized development plan to support an employee’s career aspirations. These plans are commonly referred to as “employee development plans.” Their success hinges on effective sponsorship and resource support from the top down and whether or not the employee’s goals are aligned with the goals of the boss.

The best employee development plans include an assessment of the employee’s development needs (technical, managerial and interpersonal), specific performance goals for improvement, developmental strategies and a timeline for the manager and employee to assess progress.

Some best practices:

  • Assessment. Before embarking on an action plan, the employee and boss need to identify strengths, skill gaps or challenge areas. There are numerous tools to help assess management or other skill sets, including technical or emotional intelligence. One popular tool to find challenge areas is the 360-degree review, or “multirater” assessment, used to gather performance feedback from those who work closely with the employee (the boss, direct reports, customers and peers). The objective is to gather feedback from all around the employee (hence the 360 degree).
  • Establish employee “ownership.” Personal development ultimately depends on the employee’s commitment to the plan and goals. The boss’s role in the process is to help the employee design his or her plan, identify what specific educational and development needs or new task assignments they are willing to support and identify any “must dos.”
  • Identify the “non-negotiable” — those tasks or performance development activities required to keep one’s job. It astonishes me how many people who have been let go say they “never saw it coming.” As the boss, it is your responsibility to make clear any “must dos” (vs. “would be nice to develop”) as well as “cannot happen” (vs. “maybe not the best idea”). Be clear and straightforward.
  • Provide clarity. The best plans include clear goals and establish what success looks like.
  • Utilize “SMART” goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Too often, managers identify very general goals such as “improve writing skills.” Instead, specify the criteria for measuring accomplishment of the goals (i.e., “Improve analytical accuracy to include zero mathematical errors in the management quarterly result report effective first quarter 2008.”) Equally important: plans need to include specific actions and development activities (like taking on new task assignments or educational/training activities) to achieve the goal.
  • Frequent feedback, support and follow-up. Identify what the company is willing to provide in support of development (i.e., training, coaching, mentoring and tuition reimbursement). Empower the employee to identify new assignments or activities that he or she finds motivating. Communicate your commitment to regular feedback and follow-up — and your expectation for follow-through on the employee’s part. Plans and forms are worthless if they stay buried in a drawer until next year’s review. Best intentions don’t produce change. CNN reporter Anderson Cooper wisely said covering Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, “Hope isn’t a plan.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of leadership is helping others achieve their potential. When properly leveraged and managed, the employee development tool can be a highly effective and strategic advantage in attracting, retaining and developing valuable talent and resources.

I can help you grow your people with my executive coaching services (and I have clients all over the world with Skype).  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

 

Engaged Workers Perform

WORKERS WHO ARE eager to come into work each day are “engaged”– fully involved in what they do at work and enthusiastic about their contribution and workplace environment.

Disengaged workers are the opposite — clock-watchers waiting for their workday to end (and put them out of their misery) or those who are physically and mentally exhausted by their jobs. Signs of disengagement include absenteeism, low morale, “zombies” going through their day avoiding eye contact and “checked out” workers (think surfing the Internet vs. working).

Sadly, surveys indicate fewer than one in three employees is “engaged” at work. Studies confirm that disengaged workers lead to low productivity and high employee turnover. One study, from The Hay Group, revealed that offices with engaged employees are up to 43 percent more productive.

Creating a workplace culture that supports engagement is important.

Here are several key factors:

The worker’s personality, talent and skills match the job. If employees aren’t a good fit in a position, they “check out.” Bored workers are likely overqualified and not given opportunities to work to their strengths and potential. Job-hoppers frequently report to me they are leaving because they are “underutilized” or aren’t given enough responsibility. Personality matters — an extroverted creative individual will likely disengage if the bulk of the time on the job is spent on mundane, menial tasks.

People believe their job matters. Leaders need to make it clear to their people how what they do contributes to the big picture. Most employees are inspired knowing how they are positively affecting the quality of the company’s products or services. Help them “get” how their daily output/tasks/responsibilities matter. Engaged employees feel valued.

People have clear but reasonable expectations. Engaged employees know what success looks like in their job. They are challenged but not overwhelmed by what they are being asked to do on a daily basis. Challenge should energize and inspire workers, not lead to exhaustion, stress, illness or burnout. As a coach, I see a disturbing trend of more and more people suffering from job stress. Many are exhausted (all trying to do more with less) — it’s taking a toll. These people are crying out for leadership and help. Most are angry, tired and disengaged. They need leaders who can help them sort out priorities, provide necessary support/resources and remove obstacles to success. Wise leaders help their people work smarter — not harder.

People are given feedback and growth opportunities. We all want to know how we are measuring up. Learning and improvement happen with feedback. Unfortunately most bosses aren’t giving enough of it to satisfy their employees. It’s important for workers to grow and develop and understand next steps to moving beyond their current job responsibilities (and pay scale).

What to do to increase engagement?

  • Monitor burnout and exhaustion. Your people working all hours of the day and night isn’t a good thing.
  • Create a company culture where people want to come to work. Encourage social interactions at work (dare I say even fun!), reasonable work life balance and opportunities for people to grow and advance in their careers. Engage people’s hearts and minds with inspiring visions — help them imagine and achieve the possibilities.
  • Help employees identify their personal strengths and weaknesses (or areas for improvement) and coach/support them in finding alignment at work.
  • Give responsibility. Most people like having initiatives or projects that they can run with. Most will prove they are capable (and will come into work with a new pep in their step because they finally have ownership of something).
  • Talk to employees about the daily nature of their work and what might be getting in their way of engagement. Fix broken systems or processes that are exhausting or frustrating your people.

Educate, train and coach company leaders about the importance of engagement and how to increase it.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and coaching abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com