87% of millennials surveyed by Gallup say they want their jobs to include employee development, and a main reason they cite for leaving a job is that it’s boring and/or it offers no opportunity for advancement. At the same time, employers typically have a hard time finding good people. See where we’re going with this?
Those talented people you need may already be on your team and hungry to tackle new challenges. This is a win-win just waiting to happen. Renée Gendron, writing for ATD, has some suggestions for how to begin.
Imagine having a performance review with an employee who knows what’s ahead for the company. It’s an entirely different conversation. No longer just a thumbs up and down recap, it becomes an inventory of the contributions the employee’s making (or not) to the company’s goals. By talking about the road ahead, you both can openly discuss where the employee’s weaknesses and strengths lie and look for opportunities in the company’s strategic plans. This can also allow you to identify areas in which you can provide your employee enhanced support via training, mentoring, and so on.
When employees are looking to be of more value to you and the company, it’s hard for them to guess what it is you really need and are looking for. You owe them a frank presentation of the kind of skills that can get them ahead. This allows employees to seek out the requisite experience, skills, and contacts. Otherwise, it’s just guesswork for them. The conversation can also include helping them construct multiple pathways — based on their own strengths — to their desired career destination.
Employee training undeniably costs money. But a company needs to step up in earnest if it’s interested in fully developing the talent on-hand. Leaving retraining to team members to do on their own initiative makes it less likely to happen. This can be a critically important investment: “sowing the seeds for the future,” as Gendron puts it. Development — instruction, mentoring, job shadowing, etc. — also serves the present by increasing employee engagement that delivers benefits to the business in the form of higher productivity, less turnover, and the development of skills employees can use right away.
An expectation by the company that it has to immediately look outside its staff for its new hires is ultimately an insult to its current employees and likely to be seen that way. It may be just a subliminal message of “the talented people are out there,” but a negative cascade can result, with defeated employees putting less and less into their work, and losing interest in a company that shows so little of it in them. A culture of support and development, on the other hand, keeps people invested. Odds are there are people already working for you whose excellence needs only the opportunity to shine.
Developing your employees makes the whole proposition of working for you more exciting, and, even better — since it involves people you already trust and value — it can reveal surprising “diamonds in the rough” to fill your most demanding open positions now and in the future. These people are, after all, already loyal to the company and, well, there.