It is curious that the leaders do not care about retaining their best talents. Well, that’s the message when companies don’t actively support employee development. During a recent ATD Webcast, a salient challenge shared by participants was to get managers and leaders to support employee development in their organizations. Conversely, best practice companies are rewarded with the positive impact evidenced by employee engagement, company reputation and bottom line.
There are no easy solutions to get managers to embrace development. (See my previous post: Why employee development is a necessity.) However, here are some ideas and strategies that will help change agents build momentum.
Bring a proposal to the Apex
No matter how flat a company claims its organizational structure, there is a triangle and accountability at the top. Organizational development practitioners understand that systemic change begins with leadership. You can apply the LEADER framework to any change proposal:
Leverage best practice data. A glaring gap between your company and companies with best practices can be telling and strengthen your business case. According to 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, best-practice companies credit two growth engines used to outpace their competitors: strong corporate cultures and employee development programs. In fact, strong signs of growth have been reported: employees have grown by an average of 15.6% over 24 months (five times the rate of all US companies over the same period) and company revenues private and listed companies rose an average of 22.2%. % over 24 months.
Establish your business case. Whether your business is for-profit or not, a strong business case will go a long way in convincing management why employee development deserves attention. Leverage internal data such as employee survey results and exit interviews, including talent replacement costs.
Align with company values, strategy and goals. Many companies have adopted values that include an employee component. The implementation of a significant employee development program concretizes the values adopted.
Determine and hire a senior champion. Find a credible champion within the leadership team who is willing to partner in your pursuit.
Make sure your requests are specific. When presenting a proposal for management support, be clear about what you mean by “support”. Support can take many forms, such as communicating the priority to their teams, cascading the process to their business units, tracking results, providing resources, and more.
Present your case with assurance and confidence. Your enthusiasm and perseverance will have more impact than words alone. Any hint of apprehension or lack of confidence will weaken your cause. Realize that preparation is a factor. There have been situations where I didn’t get initial support, but recycled a proposal later, which resulted in approval.
Reveal the reasons
A manager’s apathy about employee development could be a veil for unspoken concerns. If you still don’t get buy-in from managers after presenting a strong case, ask for their reasons, then respond. Consider the following concerns and potential responses:
Concern: “I will lose my best employees.”
Responnse: You are more likely to lose them if you do not do develop them. Also note that development supports performance. Want mediocre performance?
Concern: “What if they ask for something I can’t deliver.”
Solution: Development plans are drawn up in partnership between managers and employees. Setting the context in advance about its purpose will help manage expectations. A title or a promotion is not a development. A manager is not obligated to honor a request that is not feasible. The discussion should focus on learning goals and a plan to support them.
Concern: “I don’t know how to have a career conversation or write development plans.”
Solution: This is a valid concern since no one is born knowing how to have career discussions. A practical resource is the TD at work »Manager’s Guide to Employee Development.” Learn-and-practice sessions combined with coaching for managers and employees can provide the knowledge, materials and confidence to get started. This mix does not require a big budget.
Concern: “I do not have time.”
Solution: This sentiment is shared by employees and managers, but as a reactive response it may not be based on reality. To combat it, make learning part of the employee’s job responsibilities. Remember: work is a vehicle for development. Also, repeat that follow-up checks can be brief. Finally, remind leaders to be creative and flexible with assignments and schedules. We manage our time.
100% is not necessary
Don’t wait for the whole organization to be ready. Partner with responsive managers. Ultimately, employees are responsible for managing their careers. Anyone can write a development plan and seek input from their manager. There is no promise that a manager will support it, nor should there be any assumption that it will not. Wise leaders realize that taking care of their resources will affect their performance and their own careers.
Although there is no guarantee that employees will stay, proactive managers learn to develop their human resources now to avoid future regrets. Bersin research by Deloitte shows that “priority issue #3 is the need to revamp and improve employee learning. This is not just a skill development issue, but also a commitment issue. Research shows that companies with high-performing learning environments rank among the best for employee engagement, demonstrating how important learning is for engaging and empowering people.
As agents of their company, managers are entrusted with the responsibility of managing their human resources in order to produce results through others. The rewards can be significant in the form of business growth, higher revenue, and outpaced competition, as evidenced by best practice data. Managers who invest in the development of their employees are investing in their own careers.
Feel free to share this article with your leaders and managers. Sometimes external opinions can have an influence.