5 Ways to Get Employees to Own Their Own Development

Sharlyn Lauby, President, ITM Group
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(Editors Note: Today’s post comes from Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender and ITM Group.)

Every organization wants to operate efficiently. That means using the organization’s resources wisely. It might include monitoring budgets, managing staffing levels, and making sure job responsibilities are properly assigned.

Career development is one of the areas where there’s been a shift in practice. In the past, career development responsibilities fell mostly to organizations. They managed learning, including participant selection and budgets. Today, however, career development has taken on a different approach by getting employees more involved earlier in their careers.

By adopting the approach of “employees need to own their career development”, organizations can be more efficient and use their resources wisely. More employees can develop their career paths and achieve them. But for this to work, organizations must get employees engaged in the process. Here are five ways that organizations can get employees more involved in their career development:

  1. Real-time feedback – There’s no rule that says managers are the only ones who can deliver performance feedback. In reality, employees spend more time working with their peers than their manager. So, why not create a mechanism for employees to provide valuable feedback to each other? Real-time feedback gives employees the ability to receive (and ask!) for feedback from anyone at any time.
  1. Agile performance management – The performance review is not dead. Far from it. But the performance review process could benefit from a little modernization. Agile performance management brings in real-time feedback and technology to the existing appraisal process. The result is a performance review cycle that is flexible, responsive, and engaging for employees.
  1. Mentoring – We know mentoring as the process of advising or training someone. Over the years, mentoring has shed the notion of only being older workers mentoring younger ones. And gone is the belief that all mentoring should be done in person. Today’s mentoring programs are diverse and they occur at all stages of the employee life cycle – like after orientation and following a leave of absence.
  1. Coaching – Employees need coaching to set and achieve their goals. Employee goals should directly align with the organization’s strategy and plans. Goals need to be relevant. But most of all, goals need to be agreed upon. Managers and employees should work together to set goals. Otherwise it’s not really a goal; it’s more of a task. Creating an inclusive goal setting process builds buy-in and engagement.
  1. Self-learning – It might sound like all the activities we’ve discussed so far fall into the realm of self-learning. And they do. Organizations should consider this when they’re making hiring and promotion decisions. To keep a culture of self-learning, companies need to bring people into the organization that embrace the concept. They need to all reward and recognize employees who demonstrate it.

If you’re wondering about employee reaction to “owning their career development”, the answer is positive. Employees want to have some control over their jobs and careers. They want a say in their goals. Yes, it means more responsibility for them. It also means more opportunity. That’s a win for the employee, and ultimately, the organization.

To learn more about creating a work environment where employees own their career development, check out this archived webinar, “How to Align Learning and Performance Management.” It discusses the benefits of developing a learning organization and how to make the most of your goal setting processes.

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