The coronavirus pandemic has created tough economic times for most businesses. Often the first thing companies do to save money is to cut out employee training and development, which doesn’t make sense to remove something intended to make employees more productive.
Employee development is how you increase the value of your company’s most valuable asset and should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost. It is a prized benefit that keep employees engaged, accountable, and loyal as well as attract top talent to your business. Employee development upgrades your employees existing knowledge, sharpens their skills, and prepares them to take on new opportunities. When employees know they are growing and advancing their career goals with your company, they are more willing to face uncertainty, adverse conditions, and unforeseen situations with tenacity and commitment.
Difficult times are when you want to increase focus on development, and if done correctly, you will reap a positive return on that investment. There are many ways to continue developing your people during the COVID-19 crisis. Working from home doesn’t mean employees can’t achieve goals and milestones. Designing an employee development program requires some thought and effort; other than that, it is pretty simple. Today I will discuss the ease of creating and implementing an employee development program and the benefits it will bring to your employees and your business.
Engage the Employee
It is difficult for a manager to know what skills an employee needs to learn unless they ask. Your human resource person can easily prepare a questionnaire asking employees to grade themselves on their capabilities of the varying skills used at your company. Examples of categories of skills are:
- Skills needed to perform his/her duties
- Customer Service
- Supervisory and management skills
- Innovation and change
You may find that a manager assumed an employee knew a skill when, in fact, they didn’t. You may learn that an employee has skills you didn’t know about or is interested in learning one of the skills that isn’t applicable to their position. All of this is valuable information that the manager would have never known or thought to ask.
The questionnaire will help the manager know the areas where the employee needs more training and what interests they want to develop. While discussing the questionnaire results, ask employees where they see themselves in one, two, and three years from now or what new initiatives they would like to take on. Anytime you can get an employee to think about their future in your company, they become engaged and want to continue working for you.
Make a Plan
The success of an employee development plan depends largely on the commitment of the employee. The employee will be more committed if they work together with their manager to create the employee development plan. Cocreating the plan will allow them to suggest ideas or activities and will keep them engaged, inspired, and accountable as they learn.
Using the questionnaire results,
- Assess what your employees’ developmental goals are, then create a three-dimensional portfolio that includes; training, experiential learning, and coursework. Coursework does not have to take place in a classroom; there are plenty of online courses available that give the employee flexibility with their schedule.
- Document each specific goal and the training, learning opportunities, or coursework necessary for the employee to achieve it.
- Determine the amount of time the employee needs to complete the requirements on their individualized plan. Time frames for completion will vary with each employee; some people are overachievers and may advance faster than others. Allow the employee to determine the time frame for achieving their goals, and they will be more determined to succeed.
Once an employee knows what their goals are and has access to the training, experiences, and education they need to achieve them, they will be responsible for making it happen. Every employee is different, and having an individualized development plan will activate the employees’ dedication, determination, and drive.
Check in with the employee each month via email, text or in person to reward progress and answer any questions. Meet with the employee each quarter to review their progress and adjust their plan if necessary. Proper feedback is essential to the employee’s growth and builds a strong relationship between them and the manager. If the employee has not performed well, it is not necessary to reprimand them. A development plan is an added benefit to the employee that offers the company valuable insight into who is ready to be promoted and who is not.
Employee support is what every good manager does every day:
- Make sure employees know what they need to do to achieve their goals
- Check in to make sure the employees are doing those things
- Praise the employee for doing the right things
- Deliver constructive feedback to correct mistakes and redirect the employee toward their goal.
Continual check-ins and support make employees’ feel cared for, and because you invested in them, it increases their dedication and desire to be loyal to your company. Giving the employee the freedom to execute and achieve their development goals shows them that you trust them and return they trust you.
In conclusion, the coronavirus crisis doesn’t give businesses a pass on employee development; on the contrary, it spotlights its importance. Employee development plans will enhance expertise to your workforce, decrease turnover, and ensure your business not only survives but thrives.