Why poor employee development is a mistake you can’t afford


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Like many entrepreneurs, Asher Raphael, CEO of Power Home Remodeling in Chester, PA, knew he needed to provide professional development to his employees. To begin with, he looked at its workforce and identified who had untapped potential.

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Related: 4 Ways to Train Employees Effectively

Raphael used performance metrics to decide which employees to work with individually. He then invested time and energy in their development. But it wasn’t long before he saw he had made a critical mistake.

“I was focusing on preparing the men and women with the best numbers,” Raphael told me in an interview. “I realized, however, that peak performance was not always synonymous with strong leadership that would allow our organization to grow and grow. ”

Employee development is important in general, of course. But, as Raphael said realizing, missteps in employee development can cause their own problems because they hurt the business. If missteps occur, resources will be wasted and employees will fail to develop the necessary skills.

When done correctly, however, employee development can be one of the biggest drivers of success in an organization. Here are four things to consider when developing your employee development program.

1. Have a structured program.

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when it comes to an employee development program is thinking they can figure it out along the way. This rarely happens.

“As a startup, people often fear structure,” Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO and co-founder of SquareFoot in New York, told me. “The notion of structure scares people, especially when there isn’t much in the early stages of a business.

Related: 4 Ways Businesses Need Employee Learning Programs To Grow

Unfortunately, because of this mentality, Wasserstrum made the mistake of outsourcing the program to people with no employee development experience. Not knowing where to start, they just guessed. The program quickly failed.

“When we deploy it again,” Wasserstrum continued, “we will do more research and discuss best practices with other companies. Employee development isn’t the kind of thing you want to learn on the fly.

Another option is to use a proven external learning and development platform. For example, TypeCoach uses personality assessment to match employees with the most suitable training materials. They can then watch coaching videos or receive on-site training.

2. Create individual road maps.

All employees have different strengths and skills. They also have unique goals for their careers. Assuming that a single program will meet everyone’s needs is a recipe for disaster. Employees will not invest in a general education program because they will not see how it will help their career path.

Christine Dura, business development manager at OrthoNOW Urgent Care in Scottsdale, Ariz., Advised having a conversation with employees about what they want instead.

“Sit down with the employee and discuss individual interests and career goals,” she said. “Identify the developmental activities this person should undertake. Realize that not everyone has the same goals or the same perspective on what they want to accomplish in their career.

It is also important to show employees how their progress will be measured. Dura recommends creating measurable goals and realistic deadlines. This gives staff members a goal to focus on and a clear way to see how they are developing.

3. Create a learning environment.

There is a difference between teaching and allowing employees to learn. The first is to have employees sit in a classroom and ask them to absorb the information. Learning, on the other hand, happens when they are given the chance to find answers on their own.

“Knowledge is power; experience too, ”said LaurieAnn Norwood, learning and development manager at Bedgear in Farmingdale, NY, in an interview.

She said that once a friend and a former boss told her, “The answer is usually in the room”; and those words, she said, changed her perception of employee development.

“Most of the time, employees collectively know the information you share with them; they just need help finding out and applying it, ”said Norwood. “Give participants the opportunity to find solutions. These “a-ha!” Moments are usually the things they remember the most.

But how do you create this type of environment?

Norwood advised managers to slow down and listen to their employees. Employee development should take place in a welcoming and collaborative environment. Then, through discussion and skill practice, anyone can learn.

4. Know the laws.

There is often confusion over whether or not employers are required to pay employees for the hours they devote to development activities. But still compensating them could mean wasting money unnecessarily. And not paying them could cause legal problems for the business.

The important thing to understand is the distinction between job training and employee development.

“When an employer requires an employee to attend a continuing education event, online courses or anything of that nature, the employer has to pay for the worker’s time,” Scott McLaughlin told me. , labor and employment attorney at Jackson Walker in Houston. “Some common examples include sales training, awareness / anti-harassment training, and other types of required training. “

In short, these are all mandatory activities that impact the performance of employees in their running job.

The optional development training that prepares employees for the future is another story. The law does not require employees to be paid for this period. Just know, McLaughlin said, that not paying isn’t always the best decision either. Employee morale might suffer or staff members might be less interested in participating at all.

Related: ‘Gamified’ Employee Training Works Wonderfully But Is Unliked

“Employers run the risk that development offers will be seen as mandates,” McLaughlin said. “So it is difficult for an employer to offer an optional course and not pay for the employee’s time. It is possible for an employer not to pay for an employee’s time in such a situation. it is reckless.