How to get support for employee development

It’s surprising that leaders don’t care about retaining their top talent. Well, that’s the message when companies don’t actively support employee development. In a recent ATD webcast, a major challenge shared by attendees was to engage managers and leaders in supporting 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 article: Why Employee Development is a Necessity.) However, here are some ideas and strategies that will help change agents build momentum.

Bring a proposal to Apex

No matter how hard a business 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 data from best practices. A glaring gap between your business and best practice companies can be revealing and strengthen your business case. According to 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, best practice companies attributed two growth drivers used to outperform their competitors: strong corporate cultures and employee development programs. In fact, strong signs of growth were reported: employees grew an average of 15.6% over 24 months (five times the overall rate of U.S. companies over the same period) and revenues of private and listed companies. on the stock market rose by an average of 22.2%. percent within 24 months.

Establish your business rationale. Whether your business is for-profit or not, a solid business case will go a long way in convincing executives 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 espoused values ​​that include an employee element. The implementation of a meaningful employee development program embodies the values ​​adopted.

Identify and hire a senior champion. Find a credible champion on the leadership team who is willing to join 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 into their business units, tracking results, providing resources, etc.

Represent your case with confidence and confidence. Your enthusiasm and persistence 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 were situations where I didn’t get initial support, but recycled a proposal later, which resulted in an approval.

Unveil the reasons
A manager’s apathy towards employee development could be a veil for unspoken concerns. If you still don’t get buy-in from managers after you come up with a strong case, ask them why, and then go to them. Consider the following concerns and potential responses:

Concern: “I’m going to lose my best employees.
Responnse: You are more likely to lose them if you not develop them. Also note that development supports performance. Want poor performance?

Concern: “What if they ask for something that I can’t deliver?” ”
Solution: Development plans are drawn up in partnership between managers and employees. Setting the context up front on its goal 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 the 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 handy resource is the TD “Manager’s Guide to Employee Development” at work. Learning and practice sessions coupled with coaching for managers and employees can provide knowledge, materials and confidence to get started. This mixture 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, integrate learning into the employee’s professional responsibilities. Remember: work is a vector of development. Also, reiterate 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 until the whole organization is ready. Collaborate with responsive managers. Ultimately, it is the employees’ responsibility to manage their careers. Anyone can write a development plan and seek the advice of their manager. There is no promise that a manager will support him, nor should it be assumed that he will not support him. Savvy leaders realize that taking care of their resources will affect their performance and their own careers.

While there is no guarantee that employees will stay, proactive managers learn to develop their human resources now to avoid future regrets. Bersin’s research by Deloitte shows that “Priority Issue # 3 is the need to reorganize and improve employee learning. It is not only a problem of skills development, but also of commitment. Research shows that companies with high performing learning environments rank high for employee engagement, demonstrating how important learning is for engaging and empowering people.

As agents of their companies, 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 outdated competition, as evidenced by best practice data. Managers who invest in the development of their employees invest in their own careers.

Do not hesitate to share this article with your leaders and managers. Sometimes external perspectives can have an influence.