26th April, 2019

10 Activities that Encourage Employees to Take the Lead in Their Development – Sharlyn Lauby

We’ve talked a lot about the need for employees to own their careers. But how can organizations actually make it happen? If it were as easy as saying – “Poof! Everyone is in charge of their career” – well, we’d all do it. The reality is, creating a culture where employees are driving their own development involves more than just employees.

5 Things Companies Should Do for Their Management Teams

Organizations place a tremendous amount of responsibility on their managers. One of the biggest roles a manager plays is that of coach. Their working relationships can empower and engage employees to do their best work. But that doesn’t come without an investment into management development. Here are five activities that companies should do to develop managers (so they can develop employees.)

  1. Set expectations to ensure your mission, vision and values are the drivers behind all performance-related conversations. When someone becomes a manager, they need to understand their role in the organization. Managers are responsible for making sure the mission, vision, and values of the organization aren’t compromised. They need to hold themselves accountable to demonstrating organizational values.
  2. Give managers access to technology solutions that will reduce administration time. Being a manager involves some compliance and administration. But these responsibilities don’t have to be completed inefficiently or consume a majority of a manager’s time. And they shouldn’t! Using technology strategically can free up managers so they spend more time where it counts – with employees.
  3. Provide training on how to deliver real-time feedback. Regardless of your performance review process, employees need feedback. Most of the time that feedback comes from their manager. Delivering specific feedback in a timely fashion can make a difference in employee performance. Check-in conversations and feedback that take place in real-time will maximize their impact and ultimately, improve manager and employee development.
  4. Train managers to be better coaches and mentors so they can help employees grow their skills. Many managers were promoted because they were top performers in their roles; however, this doesn’t mean they automatically have the necessary people skills. In addition to feedback training, managers should be given the tools to coach and mentor employees in career development (i.e. goal setting, decision-making, etc.) Managers need to not only identify and train the future leaders of the organization.
  5. Encourage managers to solicit feedback from their employees and colleagues. The organization needs to make an investment in their managers. In turn, managers need to make an investment in themselves. They should ask peers and employees for feedback about their performance so they can develop themselves.

However, managers aren’t the only people responsible for development. Employees need to own some of their development.

5 Things Companies Should Do for Employees

If organizations want employees to have responsibility for their career development, they need to set the expectation early and give employees the tools they need to be successful. Having employees take the driver’s seat in their career isn’t exactly a new concept. What’s challenging is taking it beyond the words to action. Here are five activities that organizations should do to develop employees (so they can develop themselves.)

  1. Set expectations for values and accountability before onboarding even starts. Candidates should be told during the hiring process the company’s level of expectation. Self-learning should be part of organizational values and supported at every level of the organization.
  2. Provide training on how to deliver real-time feedback. While a lot of feedback comes from an employee’s manager, it’s not the only place to receive valuable feedback. Every employee should be proficient in delivering relevant feedback. And trained in active listening to accept real-time feedback from others.
  3. Work with employees to set relevant, challenging but achievable goals. This is another area that is often placed upon the manager but doesn’t have to be. At least 100 percent of the time. Employees should be able to draft goals and review them in a coaching session with their manager. This gives employees the tools to always be developing their careers.
  4. Give employees a voice to share ideas and concerns. Most organizations have a well-defined downward communication funnel. Companies need to have an equally well-defined upward communication process using both anonymous and face-to-face feedback. Because the only way that organizations will improve is through two-way communication.
  5. Recognize and reward employee performance and accomplishments. Employees need to know how they’re doing with respect to performance. “No news is good news” isn’t a way to communicate. Managers and employees need to give each other positive feedback in a medium that the employee prefers. If the company doesn’t know how an employee prefers to be recognized, they should ask.

Company Culture is Key for Development

You probably noticed that there were some activities that applied to both managers and employees, like values, accountability, feedback, training, etc. That’s because those activities are important components of company culture. Organizations that want employees at every level to own their career development need to create cultures that engage both managers and employees.

When managers and employees are engaged, managers are coaching employees to perform at a high-level and employees are empowered to take the lead in their development. The organization takes action when feedback and suggestions are made to improve the working environment. It’s a win for everyone.