2020 has brought on a seismic shift towards working from home (WFH) that has increasingly blurred the line between work and personal time for many of us. This presents a unique opportunity for both employers and employees to embrace the gray area and prioritize professional skill development.
A 2018 Udemy Work Research Report shows us that 58% of respondent’s current employers DO NOT provide learning, development, and training opportunities. 42% of those same young professionals say career development opportunity is the MOST important factor in deciding where to work. Linkedin’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report backs that up in a big way revealing 94% of respondents would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. The numbers don't lie, this is important to day's workforce.
The #1 reason employees feel held back from learning is a lack of time. Looking at this from an employee’s perspective, I’d expect my employer to value me enough as an individual to show a vested interest in my professional growth. In today’s demanding, and now more distributed workplace, employees should not be expected to develop their skill-sets completely separate from their work. Learning needs to be incorporated and promoted through the workplace and within the scope of one's role & responsibilities.
If you’re not focused on developing your talent you’re increasing the risk for sharp decline in organizational performance, engagement, and retention. For employers focussed on retaining the talent they have, your options are clear: make career development an active part of your manager-direct report relationships or lose them to companies who do.
Here's what you can do to ensure you're doing your part:
How to Lead Career Development Initiatives
1. Prioritize Professional Growth in One-on-One Meetings
You have to know the individual career goals of every person on your team. Make this priority #1. Your one-on-one meetings are the perfect place to begin and carry-on this conversation thread.
It’s equally important to get real answers, not the company-line. To facilitate honest insights, be authentic and proactively handle apprehension. Let your direct report know that it’s okay if their career goals don’t align with their current role or within the current structure of your organization, the focus is them and their development.
If you’re able to solicit their honest goals and/or motivations, you’ll be in a much more informed position as a manager, allowing you greater opportunity to offer relevant learning and development opportunities. The benefit(s here and shared, extending beyond the individual and into team performance.
2. Help to Identify Relevant Learning & Education Opportunities
Opportunities for continued learning and skillset development will vary based on your industry, but it is a manager's responsibility to help an employee know what options are available. Linkedin shows 56% of employees would take a course suggested by their manager. Other examples to seek out and share:
- Online courses: Udemy, Coursera, Universities
- Professional Training & Certification Programs
- Networking Events
- Books & Blogs
- Multimedia resources: videos, webinars, podcasts
Once opportunities are shared and the ball gets rolling, it’s a manager’s responsibility to hold employees accountable for pursuing any presented opportunities.
Strety Users: Use one of our 1:1 templates or set-up your own recurring Agenda Item around Learning & Development Opportunities so you can continually discuss any ongoing or upcoming opportunities with your direct report
3. Share Your Professional Expertise
We’re huge proponents of feedback, but unlike performance feedback, this is where you get to share your experiential feedback. Take what you know and use it to help your direct report towards their goals.
Perhaps you’re a CTO and your first-line tech wants to become a service manager within the next 3 years, that's awesome! Lay out the steps and skills they’ll need to accomplish that! Or maybe you’re Founder/CEO of your MSP and your report would like to start their own business one day? Give them a real look at what they can expect from the GRIND that is starting a business!
Be candid in what you share and these conversations will help build trust that will carry-over into day-to-day operations.
4. Expand Their Network
Let me be clear, managers are busy people. It can be difficult to take time away from short and mid term organizational objectives to focus on long-term individual development. While you, as a manager, need to be active in the development of your team, you don’t have to do it alone.
Leverage your established network within your field to make introductions with those in positions to offer additional mentorship. We recommend sourcing individuals from within and from outside your organization to create a more diverse and well-rounded feedback loop.
5. Promote Cross Departmental Collaboration
People don’t know what they don’t know. Encourage your team to work beside and shadow other departments within your organization. Exposure may help them unearth new skills or interests they may have never otherwise pursued.
Basecamp famously has everyone in the organization work with Support. It’s a huge part of their ethos. So much so that when it began to fail its intended purpose, rather than scrap it, they re-worked it and now it’s adding more value for their employees AND customers than ever before.
Additionally, team members will gain more appreciation for their colleague’s work and the company will benefit from a more informed and well-rounded team
Lead and Manage
The modern manager gets results - but they also lead. It’s become a prerequisite. Embrace your opportunity to help guide your team in their work and in their career. The time, effort, and energy you invest - the value you add - will make its way back to you and will make a world of different to them. Be that leader.