Every organization should invest in the development of its employees. Whether it’s called employee development, professional growth or leadership development, it all boils down to the same issue:
How do you develop and grow your employees to become better employees and strong leaders?
Employee development management ranges from developing their leadership potential to training them to manage their time more wisely and productively. If you haven't dedicated enough time, energy and funds toward employee development management you’re doing your company and your employees a great disservice.
Employee Development Management and the Millennial Connection
If you’re interested in attracting and retaining millennials (the largest generational group – comprising 32% of the workforce, and are projected to make up 46% of the workforce by 2020) then you’ll have to focus on employee development management.
In a 2016 Deloitte survey, millennials stated that the lack of leadership development was a significant factor in their dissatisfaction and desire to leave an organization. It benefits your organization to invest significantly in quality professional development for your employees.
Whether you're starting from scratch or trying to improve your current employee growth process, here is an introduction to effectively managing the employee development process:
Step 1: Establishing Effective Employee Development Management
How do you start building an effective professional development program for your employees? The first step is to have a meeting, or series of meetings, to decide. Here are some points you should be discussing:
- Is it necessary for your organization to have an employee development plan? Having a professional development program is not a foregone conclusion. Your company’s upper-level leadership must buy into improved employee development management.
- What will the main components of the plan be and how will they be managed? Leadership needs to decide on the important components that employees must receive in their professional development. Professionalism, ethics, time management, customer service, skills development, and leadership development are all components that can be included in your employee development plan. Which ones will your leadership team choose to focus on?
- What is the cost of employee development, and is it worth it? You will have to take a hard look at the cost of your organization functioning without strong employee development management. What are the costs? These costs can come in the form of employee dissatisfaction and turnover, injuries and accidents, and litigation and mediation. Is it more beneficial to your organization to have a professional development program or not?
Once you’ve decided to institute an employee development program, then it’s time to iron out the main components of the plan and how it should be managed:
Step 2: Identify & Target The Main Components Of Your Employee Development Management Plan
What components make the most sense for you company to focus on? Every company is different, but common areas of focus include the following:
- Customer service
- Leadership development
- Skills development
Below, we'll discuss a few of these areas more closely to help you decide whether they make sense for your company and your specific employee development plans.
Encouraging Employee Professionalism
Any effective employee development program needs to address professionalism. You must set the expectation of what is permissible and impermissible in your workplace in terms of behavior, dress, language, etc. It's commonly assumed that workers know how to act, but you can’t take that for granted. Many younger workers – fresh out of high school or college – have not been exposed to proper dress and behavior.
It’s also possible that more experienced workers were in a previous work environment that held different standards of professionalism. You will need to train your workers in the expectations your organization holds important.
Make sure you address problem behavior, such as sexual harassment and discrimination against various minority groups. Share your expectations concerning language befitting your company’s employees. For example, if foul or uncouth language will not be tolerated, let your employees know from the outset. Explain proper dress: Do you mind your employees wearing casual business attire everyday? Are jeans considered casual business attire? Or do you want your employees in full business wear everyday? These are points that must be addressed with clarity so there are no mistaken interpretations.
Establishing An Ethical Workforce
A discussion of where your organization stands in terms of ethics is an absolute must. Nothing can get an employee or company in trouble faster than issues concerning ethics. Share with your employees your expectations of what is legal, moral, and ethical conduct. In this area in particular, failure to address the issues opens up the arena to violators. Gray areas are excellent places for unethical, immoral, and sometimes illegal actions. Make sure to remove as many gray areas as possible.
Improving Productivity & Time Management
You're familiar with the saying: Time is money. Most companies have room for improvement when it comes to their employees' ability to manage time and provide optimal performance.
Training workers how to best utilize their time is a worthwhile endeavor that’s sure to pay off. However, this should be done in a manner that’s not threatening or intimidating, nor should you encourage micro-management among your leadership. Nothing will backfire faster than a micromanager who belligerently pressures workers to decrease time and increase productivity.
Developing Leaders That Can Transform Your Business
Leadership development is a critical component of your company's employee development program and an aspect that concerns millennials greatly. Millennials have indicated that they value working for organizations that actively develop their potential for leadership, and they are most disenchanted working for those organizations that fail to develop this quality.
According to Deloitte, 63% of millennials feel their leadership potential isn’t being developed. In sharp contrast, only 28% of millennials feel their present workplace is fully using their skills. Make sure to meet this need or expect to lose high-quality employees.
Step 3: Justifying The Cost of Increased Employee Development Management
It's common for upper management to argue that more involved employee development programs are too costly.
But, the opposite is actually true: It’s costly not to institute a program of professional development for your employees.
Not having an effective employee development program negatively impacts the productivity of your workers, their job satisfaction, and in-turn, the bottom line of your company. Add to that the costs of injuries and accidents that happen from poorly trained workers and legal costs and mediation expenses for actions taken by your employees that could have been avoided had they been trained in the proper way. It’s more cost-effective to invest in employee development.
The relative costs to train employees are minimal: In 2013, employee development expenses averaged $1,208 per employee for 31.5 hours of training. Further, the larger the company, the lower the price for training dropped per employee. Regardless of the industry, training expenses stayed between $500 to $2,000 per employee; not a hefty sum in comparison to the costs of not investing in employee development.
You Can’t Afford Not To Invest In Employee Development Management
Wise leadership is sure to invest in its company’s employee development. The benefits of such development far outweigh the costs. Playing clean up or having to practice damage control is not the most cost-effective, time-saving way to manage employees. A high-quality employee development management program won't just help your company, it's the key to optimal, long-lasting success in the future.
Employee Development Management 102: Putting It Into Action
You already know that every organization needs an employee development management plan. Once you've carved out a solid plan, you will need to set out definitive steps for what needs to be done to put it into action. Following is a sample of the steps you can take to implementation your employee development management plan:
Step 1: Allot the Necessary Funds to Meet the Goals of Your Employee Development Management Plan
This is a necessary first step for the implementation of your employee development management plan. Never begin a venture without lining up the necessary funds in order to make it happen. Plans fail because we fail to plan. This is doubly true when the financial expenditure is not fully considered.
It's often helpful to establish an ambitious goal that will be more costly and a more attainable goal based upon a bottom line that accounts for the absolute minimum of what you want to get done with the employee development plan. Using this exercise will likely land you somewhere in the middle of the two–achieving more than you would if you just went with the lowest expenditure (oftentimes the default approach).
It's a good idea to also hold meetings with your finance department and ensure funds are set aside for your employee development plan. It’s best if they can be put under their own budget code. That way, it’s more difficult for anyone to siphon off from the monies for other projects. Keep a buffer amount, remembering not to plan down to the last cent. If you do, this doesn’t allow for any changes, unforeseen circumstances or unexpected costs.
GO THE EXTRA MILE: If you're really dedicated to getting the most of your employee development, you should look into federal, state and local grants that may be available for some of the components of your employee development management plan. There are often grants available for ethics training, diversity awareness and cultural proficiency professional development. Depending upon the type of organization you have, you may be able to receive government grant funding. If this is the case, it’s best to start looking to procure these funds well before you embark upon your employee development management program.
Step 2: Decide What Components You Want to Include in Your Employee Development Management Plan
What components do you want to address in your employee development plan? The general areas that are considered for employee development are:
- Ensuring respectful and ethical environments for employees and customers
- Encouraging employee professionalism
- Improving productivity and time management
- Delivering exceptional customer service consistently
- Developing transformative, innovative leaders
- Developing the skills of your workforce
You probably already know what is most important for your company. If you’re an established company, then you probably know what components you want your employees to focus on. If you’re a new organization or many of your employees are new, you may not be sure what you want. In that case, you may choose to have your employees and leaders take various needs assessments.
You Should Include all Stakeholders in Developing Your Employee Development Management Plan
Involving all stakeholders who stand to be affected by your decision to implement an employee development management plan is a key variable that cannot be overlooked. The lack of involvement of all stakeholders–particularly lower-level employees–is key to the failure of an organization’s efforts to change. All employees must be represented and have a strong voice when designing the plan if you want it to succeed. After you’ve decided what particular components you want them to focus upon (with input from all stakeholders), then it’s time for training.
Step 3: Roll Out a Training Program that Covers the Components You’ve Chosen
Depending upon the amount of money you have available, you will need to choose the training program that works best. Options are:
- Face-to-face/in-person training
- ELearning or online learning
- Hybrid, which is a combination of the face-to-face format and eLearing
Opinions differ about what sort of training works best. In-person training tends to be the most expensive. It is also time-consuming and inflexible in terms of time, freedom and convenience. Online training, or eLearning, is not as expensive, and it offers more flexibility and freedom.
If you want to show that your organization strongly backs your employee development management training, then it’s best that some of it is face-to-face and that your leadership is present at the training. This will show that the content is important to your company.
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The size of your organization also matters, in terms of cost, but also in terms of location. If you have several hundred to several thousand to train, you’ll need a facility large enough to hold so many people.
Step 4: During and After the Training, Implement Follow-Up to Ensure that the Concepts are Being Utilized
Often, employees receive solid development training and then...that's it. There’s no follow-up after training session to ensure that the information sticks. In order to remember information it must be implemented. Because these may be new concepts and novel ways of interacting with customers and colleagues, employees may not be comfortable nor will they naturally transition to the newly acquired practices. If left alone, they will slip back into their previous, ineffective behavior. You must implement follow-up to make sure they don't.
If the training lasts several weeks or months, arrange follow-up during the training as well. If the training lasts a day or a week, it’s all the more important to implement follow-up to ensure that the material sticks.
What are some options for follow up?
- Have your more experienced employees serve as mentors. Have them drop in on younger, less experienced employees to see how it’s going with the implementation of the new material. This is an opportunity for them to develop relationships and help the new person grow. Make sure they’re available for spur-of-the-moment questions. This is also a great opportunity to develop your leaders.
- Make sure your leadership encourages employees to implement the newly learned material. This is an opportunity for rewarding employees who are utilizing the material. Verbal praise, particularly in front of their colleagues, is an effective means of encouraging your employees to use the new material.
- Set up internal projects that reinforce the components of your employee development management plan. This is an incredibly effective option for leadership development. Those who are newly trained can flex their leadership “muscles” and get a little experience in growing in this area.
Secure Funds, Make a Plan, and Implement Ongoing Training Measures for Highly Effective Employee Development Management
Putting your employee development management plan into action doesn’t have to be difficult. The more preparation you put into it, the better the roll-out will be. Simply remember to count the costs in advance, set aside an allocation for your plan, consult all stakeholders and implement quality follow up, and you’ll be well on your way.
You may also be interested in these employee development posts:
- 5 Proven Conflict Management Strategies Used In The Workplace
- Retaining Millennial Employees Through Leadership Development
- The Low Cost Of Employee Development vs. The High Cost Of Employee Turnover
To learn more about the benefits of employee development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.