The key principles to make sure people development actually happens in your business
One of the challenges raised in my recent customer survey was how to make sure people development actually happens.
It is something I can relate to – I always mean to find out how to use Linkedin better or how to interpret my Google Analytics but frankly there is always something else that seems more important!
It’s certainly a tricky issue – inevitably the day-to-day activities and duties of a role will take precedence over development plans. Budget limitations can also be an issue as is whether you can give employees the time away from their desks to attend training etc.
But clearly if a business is to grow it needs to grow its people too.
So, how do you make sure staff development happens in your business?
As with everything important there are no simple tricks I can share that mean development magically starts to happen. What I can do though is outline the key principles that need to be in place for development to happen and for development to work.
In order for change to happen, you need to know where you are now and where you want to be. It’s the same for people development.
Where is the employee now – in terms of skills and experience, strengths and weaknesses? What’s the gap that needs to be filled? What do they/the business want to achieve?
What will success look like? How will you measure that success? For instance, if the employee needs to have more engaged conversations with your customers what will the outcome be of their development in this area? It might be increased customer satisfaction scores or increased sales.
How are you going to get from where you are now to where you want to be? As with any change, it takes strategy and planning.
What actions are required to enable the employee’s development? It might not necessarily be a training course, it might be job shadowing, a secondment, a specific project, having a mentor.
What timescales does the development need to happen in? Be realistic but do set a deadline – it’s perhaps one of the most important things you can do to make sure development happens!
Who needs to be involved? What other resources do you need to call upon to enable the employee’s development – another employee, another manager etc?
Write the plan down so you have something to refer back to.
It takes discipline to make development happen. And there’s no discipline without buy-in. It’s crucial for both employee and manager to buy-in to the need for development and the actions required.
But whose responsibility it is to actually make it happen? Traditionally development was something that happened to you – you were sent on training courses because your manager/the business decided that’s what you needed. The trend these days is for the employee to have much more ownership of their own development, for them to write the plan and drive the actions. But of course nothing will happen without their manager’s support to facilitate the activities required.
4. Integrating people development into the business
If people development is seen as a stand-alone activity, outside the normal day-to-day running of the business, then it’s no wonder it doesn’t always happen.
Compare it to your invoicing process. I bet you have a system that flags when invoices become overdue. You probably also have someone/a team responsible for chasing outstanding payment.
Without that system it’s possible that other priorities would get in the way of making sure payment is received on time. Which could have serious implications for cashflow within the business.
It’s the same for people development. Other priorities can distract from it but it’s critical that it happens. It’s your people cashflow – it’s about growing the capability of your business.
With this in mind, I am taking a different approach this year to help me implement my own development needs. I’ve identified some relevant training on Linkedin and Google Analytics. I planned in the dates and protected them in my diary. I’ve set up automated weekly reports from Analytics which go straight to my email so it’s easy to access it. And I’ve set myself some measures of success e.g. to increase my connections on Linkedin and increase engagement on my website.
What could you do to integrate people development into your business more? Could you create a system that makes it happen more automatically? A system that means people development becomes a habit, not a chore?