Managers often feel that one of the difficulties they face is the dual mandate to achieve business results and, at the same time, develop employees.But the reality is that employee development is not on top of delivering business results. It’s how we deliver business results.
Research from the Learning & Development Round table has shown that managers who are effective at employee development:
1 Have employees who are more satisfied with their jobs;
2 Have employees who are more committed to the organisation;
3 Have employees who are more adaptable to change;
4 Have employees who are up to 40% more likely to stay with the company.
With all these positive effects on employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention, it’s no surprise that many Heads of HR see employee development as one of their highest priorities in 2013.
But the most important reason HR should invest time and effort to train managers to develop employees is that it can have an enormous impact on the company’s bottom line. The direct reports of managers who are effective at employee development outperform those with ineffective managers by as much as 25 per cent.
Although the primary responsibility for an employee’s development rests with the individual, the manager has an important role in:
- Helping employees identify their development needs
- Providing positive reinforcement and helpful feedback
- Setting goals and building a Development Plan
- Allowing time for coaching and development
- Communicating organisation information and helping them see how they fit in the bigger picture.
Based on my own experience and continuing conversations with senior HR professionals I recommend that companies take the following steps to enable managers to play that role effectively:
1. Show that employee development matters.
Managers must understand why employee development is critical for achieving business goals and how individual and team development translates to business results. Change the conversation from “development as an HR process” to “development as a business need”. And train managers how to align individuals’ and teams’ development goals with the broader organisational needs and strategy as well as the employees’ personal and business objectives.
2. Integrate development into the day-to-day business.
Many managers still believe that employee development is the responsibility of the learning and development department and don’t realise the importance of their day-to-day interactions. To integrate development into the day-to-day business, train managers to:
- Provide employees with discrete on-the-job learning experiences, and roles that will stretch and develop employees over time;
- Coach employees and help them reflect on their experiences to highlight and reinforce learning;
- Give helpful and developmental feedback to improve employee’s insight and awareness.
3. Hold managers accountable for the quality of employee development.
Many companies limit accountability to compliance. In other words, “has the manager had a development planning discussion with the employee?”; “Has the employee got a Development Plan?” This approach focuses accountability on completing the activity rather than the quality of the result. Companies should motivate managers to improve and be better coaches, by tracking the quality of development and stress effectiveness over activity completion.
By following these steps, organisations can help their managers develop their employees and drive significant gains in performance and productivity.