Does an employee need to develop?
Personal development is one of the needs of everyperson. At the same time, it is a process that lasts a lifetime and is conductedin various spheres. One of such areas is work, where usually the most importanttype of personal development is that of a professional nature. Every employeeneeds to develop, but the question can be asked: what does the employer get outof it? Is it profitable for him to invest in human capital?
It turns out that employee development brings quite afew benefits to the employer - providing and supporting employee developmentpositively affects their engagement, their work motivation and satisfaction,and their retention in the organization and the success of the company. Whydoes such development affect engagement? Just consider a simple example andconsider whether, if the employee knows that in some time his position in thecompany will not change at all, and he will not gain any new competencies, willhe be able to fully engage in work and act at an important level and go beyondthe scope of his duties? Of course, there will be people for whom this will notbe a big problem.
However, because development is a need, it turns outthat many employees in such a situation will feel as if they are locked in adead end, and this certainly does not have a positive impact on theirwell-being and engagement. For most, the lack of development opportunities is ademotivating factor
Four keyways to support employee development
Employee development is not only, contrary to quiteoften expressed opinions, the responsibility of the employee himself, but alsoof his managers and the company. Naturally, the best option is when theemployee himself/herself shows willingness to acquire new competencies,undertake new activities, and at the same time the company actively supportshis/her development. Acquiring new skills is crucial in employee development.
However, we must remember that not every employee isaware that they have a chance for personal development at work. Lack of propercommunication, culture and support will result in constant stagnation andgrowing frustration. On the other hand, sometimes it is the employee who triesto develop at work, but the organization or the managers inhibit this desire,for example by saying that it is not a priority for the company and thatpersonal development should take place in free time. So, what can a company doto support employee development? So how should an employee development plan becreated? There are many ways, but it is worth discussing a few key ones
1. Finding out if the employee feels that the job isan opportunity for growth.
A frequent problem is the lack of proper communicationin the company. The employee does not know whether he or she has opportunitiesfor development, and the manager does not know whether his or her subordinatesfeel that they can develop at work and how he or she could help them to do so.Open communication should always be the starting point for developmentactivities. Periodic conversations are usually an opportunity to discuss suchtopics, but their frequency may be insufficient, so the superior should alsoraise the topic of the employee's personal development on other occasions. Basedon periodic evaluation, we have a chance to plan the development path for aparticular employee.
In addition, a helpful solution, and a significanthelp in supporting the development of employees may turn out to be the researchaddressing these issues. The issues related to personal development may beincluded, for example, in employee engagement studies, an example of which isEnpulse, in which development and knowledge is one of the key research areas.
2. Building an organizational culture that encouragesdevelopment.
A crucial element that supports employee developmentis a company's organizational culture, which includes principles, values, andcommunication patterns. Organizations usually understand that they need todevelop themselves to keep up with market changes and customer needs. However,sometimes companies forget that the value that should be nurtured is also thedevelopment of employees, because without this it is difficult to achievepositive changes at the company level - after all, its fate depends on thepeople who create it.
That is why it is necessary to build in theorganization an atmosphere of openness to innovative ideas, support opencommunication, thanks to which the employees will not be afraid of independentinitiative. In addition, it is also necessary to remember about creatingopportunities for development, for example by organizing training, developingcareer paths or promotion criteria. In many companies, a talent developmentprogram will also prove useful. Supporting the unique abilities andpredispositions of individual employees results in more effective performanceof their duties and going beyond them. To a significant extent, this translatesinto the involvement of each employee, achievement of objectives and higherprofits for the organization. Employee education, external training and otherforms of development should be supported by appropriate employee developmenttools.
3. Individual support of employee development by adirect manager.
A frequent practice, especially in larger companies,is to entrust matters related to employee development to specific individuals,such as from the HR department. They take care of the training offer or talentmanagement, conduct special questionnaires among employees to learn more abouttheir development needs. However, this should not relieve direct managers fromthe responsibility for the personal development of their subordinates. In fact,they know them best, they can observe their daily activities and communicatewith them on an ongoing basis. It is also extremely important that they knowthe needs of the organization combined with the knowledge of the specificity ofwork on a given position. Thanks to this, they can also properly direct thedevelopment activities of their co-workers, so that they support their careergrowth.
It is crucial that the relationship between theemployee and the manager is based on honesty, openness, and mutual respect. Theemployee must feel that he has the support and trust of his immediate superior.Only in such conditions, a subordinate will not be afraid to talk to hers/hismanager about hers/his desire to develop, about the possibilities which she/hehas before her/him.
However, just watching and listening is not enough.Support for the employee's development should also consist in the fact that themanager is able to properly respond to the developmental needs and will try toanswer them by offering training, participation in a new project or offeringthe employee greater flexibility of working time due to his additional studies,courses. Professional development paths should be selected individually, sothat they support the development of skills and lead to the achievement of setgoals.
An important task of the manager is also to encourageemployees to develop, because not everyone is able to come up with such aninitiative on their own. Sometimes it is even necessary to look for the path ofpersonal development together with the employee. Forms of development shouldalso be discussed during a conversation with employees. However, the tasks of asuperior do not end here. He should support the employee during this process,for example by appreciating successes, but also by trying to practically usethe competences gained by the employee in his everyday duties. Thanks to this,the development will not only be the realization of a personal need, but itwill become a motivation, because the employee will see that his efforts inthis area make sense and bring additional benefits to the company.
4. Supporting employee development through stimulatingwork.
Personal development is a process and is usually seenas something that is done outside of one's daily responsibilities. But suchdevelopment is not only about training, studies, courses, developing individualplans or career paths. An employee should feel that everyday work is also achance for him/her to gain new competences, experiences. Performing onlyroutine activities may cause discouragement, frustration, decreased motivationand boredom, and this usually results in a decrease in the employee'scommitment. That is why it is so important to entrust the employees with tasks,engage them in projects that pose new challenges, stimulate them to look for innovativesolutions, and thus allow for development.
It must be remembered, however, that the challengemust be interesting for the employee, it cannot be just an attempt to break theroutine, or what is worse, to hide under the pretext of development the desireto burden the employee with more responsibilities. Of course, such development,participation in new projects often means that there will be more tasks, but ifthey correspond to the real development needs of an employee, they will not beperceived as another boring constraint, but as an inspiring challenge.
It is therefore crucial to have apromising idea of what the person wants or at least to know which areas do notinterest him at all. It is also important to analyze in which forms ofdevelopment the person wants to and can participate. One more issue cannot beneglected - the challenge must be achievable for the employee, as burdeninghim/her with a task that is too difficult, or that will require him/her toacquire new competences too quickly, may be a source of stress and frustration.
Supporting employeedevelopment is an important, but still quite often underestimated element ofbuilding employee engagement. In companies, various tools that can support suchdevelopment are being implemented more often, employee development plans arecreated, training sessions are organized, and during periodic interviews notonly achievements are evaluated, but also key development areas of organizationmembers are identified. However, it should be remembered that the activitiessupporting employee development should have a permanent character and beexpressed not only in the appropriately selected tools, but also in theorganizational culture, everyday actions of the superiors, appropriate communication,and stimulation of development through everyday work. Only such a comprehensiveapproach will have a real, positive impact on the engagement of employees andtheir motivation to work.
It is also worthmentioning that it is the employee's willingness and proactive attitude thatplays a key role in their development. Regardless of how hard the employer willtry to create the best work environment, what tools he will implement, everythingdepends on the persistence and willingness of the employee himself. Of course,both the employee and the employer should work on motivation (both external andinternal), but this is a separate topic that will be discussed next time. It isworth investing in the employee because it simply pays off. Development plans,appropriate atmosphere in the workplace, participation in trainings, improvingemployees' qualifications are the key elements helping the employee to become aspecialist in his/her field and the company to gain an advantage on the market.