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Employee Development – Important and Often Overlooked
Employee Development – Important and Often Overlooked

Development Planning is perhaps the single most overlooked and neglected aspect of business management.  Roughly translated; actively assisting and nurturing every member of the workforce, so as to help them achieve their full potential.

Speak to any business owner or manager and they will likely agree that helping shape the future careers of employees matters.  Nevertheless, research suggests that it is an activity that either goes largely ignored, or approached as a bureaucratic ‘box to tick’ and little more.

Unfortunately, the result is the inevitable loss of outstanding young talent for the companies in question – a high price to pay.

A Common Problem

If you take a look at your own unique managerial style and business priorities, there’s a good chance employee development doesn’t rank highly on the list.  Don’t feel too bad about it though – you’re certainly not in the minority.  It’s likely that you do spend at least some time focusing on it, but nowhere near as much as you perhaps should.

And when you think about it, the same probably rings true for the managers and leaders you yourself worked under during your progression.  Ask yourself – how many demonstrated real, dedicated interest in your long-term career prospects?

A recent Harvard Business Review study focused on this exact issue, reaching the conclusion that far too many businesses are letting the best and the brightest slip through their fingers. Authors Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu highlighted the widespread gaps in development training programs among most businesses worldwide.

"Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits.  We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they'd like their employers to do, and found some large gaps,” the report stated.

“Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility.   But they're not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching - things they also value highly."

Why Does Development Planning Go Overlooked?

While specific reasons (and individual justifications) may vary, there are three primary reasons why employee development rarely gets the dedicated focus it deserves:

1. The here and now takes priority

For example, consumed and preoccupied with efforts to remain both competitive and relevant today, most businesses fail to look further into the future.  They overlook the long-term value of employee-development, focusing instead on essential daily operations and results.

2. It becomes bureaucratic

Many businesses draw up proposals and standards for ongoing employee-development, which may to an extent be implemented.  Nevertheless, they have a habit of becoming bureaucratic, robotic and of little real value to anyone.  Rather than the individual strengths of employees being nurtured and capitalised on, the workforce is instead treated as a collective herd.

3. There's no time for it

Many businesses would argue that despite wanting to do what’s best for their employees, there simply isn’t time to devote resources to development planning.  Which in turn confirms their belief that other duties are of greater priority.

Why Development Planning Deserves More Focus

What most businesses fail to understand is that by short-changing their employees in terms of development planning, it is the wider business that suffers as a result.  Once again, there are three fundamental reasons why employee-development should be given the focus and priority it deserves:

1. Enhanced loyalty, motivation and productivity

When you demonstrate your genuine interest in both the welfare and future of an employee, they immediately build stronger bonds with the company.  Their loyalty to you and your business grows, which has a direct impact on motivation and ultimately productivity.

2. Develop and retain top talent

To invest heavily in nurturing employees to reach their full potential is to stand the best possible chance of holding onto them.  The reason being that if they believe they can spread their wings and fly higher elsewhere, that’s exactly what they’re going to do, sooner or later.

3. It’s your responsibility

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to identify potential where it exists, making every effort to maximize it.  If you don’t, it’s not only the employee that loses out, but also you and your business.

If you don’t make the required effort to bring out the best in your workforce, who will?

Choose from the list of our courses for employee development.