Planning for Employees’ Growth, Development, and Education
Employee education is where many organizations get it wrong. Financial, customer, and process metrics are put into place, with strategies clearly laid out to achieve them. Then someone thinks about employee skills and knowledge development, almost as an after-thought. Oops! In fact, employee skills development and knowledge growth are essential to every business because the workforce must be skilled to perform business processes to the high standards demanded by financial metrics and to deliver the products and services that customers want to buy.
To achieve success in this area, you must have a plan. This means more than just a training plan. You have to envision how you will be delighting customers, running your business, and achieving financial success. You then must consider how your employees will obtain the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve these accomplishments, and how they will acquire them within the planned timeframe.
There are different aspects to planning growth and development:
- Developing your workforce means assessing your process and business needs, assessing your current workforce, and putting training and development programs in place to close the gaps.
- To grow, you may need different employees with different skill sets and knowledge. So you will need to be able to acquire them, and quickly! At the same time, you will want to consider using current employees and providing them extra training if necessary. In this way, they acquire the added knowledge and skills needed to do the job in the new way, or simply do the job better, faster, and cheaper.
Above all, your plan must be flexible. You may encounter changes in your assumptions about the market, changes in technology, or changing financial conditions, which could impact your growth strategy. Always remember that the goal of growth and development is to charter a path to new opportunities, and to do this, you have to plan well, execute well, and adjust when you need to.
Your colleagues, superiors, and executives will feel differently about the importance and applicability of growth and development. Some may believe in a balanced approach across all aspects of business is needed for successful management. Others may feel (quite strongly) that the financial aspect is the only one that really counts, and the other aspects are just window dressing for the boss. Still others may feel that customer focus is everything, and they just have to satisfy whatever the customer wants at the time.
These differences in belief will impact behaviors and, in turn, actions taken to achieve results. Remember: Different strokes for different folks! For your growth and development plan to work properly, you must involve employees often and repeatedly in its planning, design, and implementation. Any concerns, needs, and observations must be addressed right away to gain credibility both with particular employees and with the organization as a whole. Getting and responding to their feedback, as well as getting them involved, will increase their commitment and buy-in, as well as add value to the overall approach.