July 24, 2024

Advancing Corporate Yields

Pioneering Business Success

3 Ways Leaders Should Approach Employee Development

The work ecosystem we’re living in today looks far different from any other time in history. With hybrid teams replacing the in-office norm, evolving employee expectations and an ultracompetitive hiring environment, many forward-leaning executives and managers need to change the way they approach employee development.

What is employee development?

Employee development programs are a great way to show your employees you care about their future by investing in their education and training. However, with the ever-changing landscape of the workforce, what does this mean for current employee development measures? 

Simply, these strategies need to evolve to meet the changing needs of the workforce. The support and development of a hybrid team will look very different from how employee development was approached for a traditional in-office employee. But we’ve only scratched the surface of what it would mean for employee development strategies to shift and align with a more dynamic, modern perspective.

Why is employee development important and ripe for transformation? 

First, there are five generations of employees in the workforce. Each generational cohort tends to have a unique communication style and work attitude. These competing attributes create tensions and can be hindrances to producing great work. 

Consequently, as a manager or leader, you must focus on helping all team members learn strategic ways to communicate with each other effectively. This is not a small task, especially if your company relies on a variety of communication channels across a distributed, disjointed workforce.

Second, employee development helps workers gain a better understanding of other employees as well as themselves. They get to know their strengths, work tendencies and motivations. And through development vehicles, they can elevate those skills so they work well alone and with others.

Third, development opportunities create alignment and connection between employees and employers. Alignment encourages candidates to apply for jobs and employees to stay rather than leave. When organizations fold their purpose into their development strategies, they highlight the importance of that purpose. The constant repetition of the corporate purpose motivates employees to figure out ways to have an impact, which serves both their needs and the needs of the organization.

The final reason to rethink most corporate professional development programs revolves around the subject of change. It’s well-known that change is the one constant everyone can expect, which is why adaptability in business is such a welcome capability. Helping employees understand best practices to flex and anticipate increases their likelihood of being able to process information, go through consistent and applied problem-solving processes, and make confident decisions that support the company’s overarching goals.

3 ways to redesign the future of employee development at your organization

If you’re a manager or business leader, try some of the following suggestions to help revamp your company’s employee development protocols. By applying different employee development strategies than you’ve designed and deployed in the past, you’ll wind up with a more cohesive, loyal workforce that’s ready for anything.

1. Continuously develop yourself

The more you can learn and grow, the more you will be able to help your employees do the same. Never ever allow yourself to stop learning. Take measures to learn about upcoming industry trends, read about learning and management strategies as put forth by thought leaders, join a mastermind community of peers in similar leadership positions and cultivate mentor relationships.

As part of your self-improvement journey, begin experimenting more often. Getting comfortable with constant experimentation will help you in a world that’s always changing. After all, it’s very likely you will have to pivot sometimes without having a full-fledged plan in place. During the pandemic, you likely learned that previous assumptions aren’t always dependable. Practice checking your assumptions at the door and trying new things. Then, evaluate what strategies you’ve tried, gauge their effectiveness, keep what worked, toss what didn’t and move on.

2. Develop and refine a mentor mentality

It doesn’t matter if your title is CEO or line manager: You will be tasked with making sure that your direct reports have the capability and know-how to finish their responsibilities. The best way to transfer your knowledge is to mentor your team. For instance, strive to gain a holistic view of your employees. What are each of their long-term plans? What do they aspire to achieve now and in their future careers? And what can you do to ensure that while they’re under your supervision, you assist them in growing and progressing toward those professional goals?

Being a mentor obviously involves listening. But most importantly, be sure to add an element of caring. You’re managing people, not robots. It’s your job to provide the needed support and encouragement as your people embark on their professional development endeavors. Therefore, cultivate empathy and seek to understand all your team members as integrated, unique beings who are more than the sum of their work and career “parts.”

3. Ask for employee feedback (and do something with it)

Want to become an aspiring and inspiring manager or leader? Regularly ask for feedback from those around you. This will allow you to keep a “pulse check” on what’s working and what isn’t. It will also allow you to better tailor your employee development to build more buy-in and involvement. One caveat, though: If you ask for insights, you have to apply what you find out. Otherwise, your efforts will have a demotivational effect and thwart your intentions.

You can then use your discoveries to adapt your employee development program to stimulate more worker motivation and engagement. Remember, your workers will realize that their feedback was the direct cause of any professional development they receive. In other words, they will have to see their ownership in the experience. 

Additionally, they’ll realize that you’re authentically adaptable. That makes you a manager or leader who’s unafraid of changes, whether they’re seismic technological disruptions or everyday shifts. In your employees’ eyes, this positions you as someone they can trust to make the tough decisions when necessary and put resources behind your choices.

To get on the leading edge of the future of business leadership and remain there, you probably need to overhaul at least some of your employee development strategies. Lean into this journey and learn from it. Facing the changing workforce with a positive, can-do mindset will enable you to make the right changes for the betterment of your organization and your team.

Photo by NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock.com

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