Over the years, there have been high aspirations for employees to own and drive their own development. Courses were rolled out to employees, messaging packaged up cleverly and countless booklets were provided to support employees. With Forbes stating that 78% of employers say they are providing training or development opportunities to help employees learn new skills, Forbes states that professionals don’t agree. This points to a clear disconnect between employers and their staff. All with the aim of helping employees own and drive their own development. This indicates that many of the initiatives haven’t ‘hit the mark’ and translated into reality.
What is stopping employees from owning their own development?
Why it is hard for employees to own and drive their own development? As there is certainly a common consensus that it is in everyone’s best interest. Well, the reality of it is it’s not that simple. It’s not easy for many to simply ask for feedback, especially in a virtual setting. Especially as there is a common conception that employees think that feedback will be negative. So as many don’t necessarily want to hear it, only a few seek it out (Inc 2020).
The result of not asking for feedback is that many employees then do not understand how they are performing. Whether they are growing their careers and have little clarity of future opportunities and development.
If you want to avoid this disconnect in your organisation, here are some things to ‘unboss’ performance and put the ownership of growth and development on the part of the employee:
Five ideas to unboss performance
Provide employees with the tools to ask for feedback
As HR professionals, we need to give employees the tools and the ‘licence’ to ask for feedback so that they can understand what they are good at and where their development gaps may lie. Asking someone for feedback in person is beyond brave. It can be embarrassing and too big of an ask of our employees. Building a feedback culture means putting the tools in their hands where they are given comfortable ways of asking for feedback or advice and they are even nudged to do it. At Our Tandem, we brand our Continuous Performance Management platform as a ‘coach in the employees’ pocket’. This involves giving them some helpful phrases to get the conversation started, and nudges to prompt action. Asking for feedback is an art, don’t assume it’s natural for most.
Implement regular dedicated check-ins
Development isn’t served well at the end of a performance review. If you are an organising working with a ratings culture, chances are your employees are more focused on what their rating is than the conversation at the end that addresses their development. Segregate out the development conversation so it’s a dedicated discussion, focused on their development needs and their longer-term aspirations. It’s recommended to do it early in the year, not at the end of a tiring year. Most people come in with new year resolutions wanting more from life. That makes it a great time to grasp their imagination and plan for a great year.
Discuss the employee’s strengths with them to optimise development
Help employees understand their strengths and the opportunities that may exist for them to grow further in the organisation. We shouldn’t assume that everyone understands what their strengths and true potential are. Managers can gather objective feedback from peers, stakeholders, leaders, and direct reports, where relevant, to understand what their employees’ strengths are. 360 surveys are great tools to understand this further. It’s important that the employee and manager discuss what strengths there are and explore opportunities that link to those strengths. Sometimes development discussions can stray into weaknesses and gaps to the overemphasis and lose sight of the much needed discussion on strengths and how to optimise them.
Support the development of your employees through opportunities
Bring transparency to internal opportunities. Opportunities don’t always come in the form of job promotions. There can be countless means of supporting employees to develop. Secondment, job shadowing, mentoring, project, step in leadership, or even external community or charitable leadership roles can all become great means of development. Review all the options with your employee and decide on a positive next step for their development.
The expectation of an organisation is not to carve out a career for our employees, but we can certainly structure an experience to give them a helping hand, to understand their strengths and the potential opportunities that may be available to them. The more information, tools and ‘licence’ we put in their hands, the more likely they are to take that mantle to own and drive their own development.
Our Tandem concentrate on encouraging employees to drive their next actions and sustaining habits, taking accountability into their coaching ability, and making Continuous Performance Management an experience that employees love, not fear. If you want to find out how Our Tandem can help empower your employees to drive their own development, book a chat with us.