Balancing your team’s need for personal development with the strategic development goals of the company is a difficult conundrum for many managers. While each individual needs to develop at a personal level to stay motivated, the company must of course achieve its goals in order to survive and prosper.
Employee performance development is a joint effort between employers and employees to ensure there are opportunities for individuals to learn new skills, refine existing skills and increasetheir knowledge. This is important because not only does it increasemotivation and employee engagement, it also aligns employee and organizational goals.
The first step is to cascade the goals from the top down. Cascading goals means reinterpreting the business objectives so that they are applicable and relevant for the individual concerned. For example, if a business objective for the year is to improve customer service by 25%, then a goal for the employeemight be to learn a new skill and spend a certain percentage of their time directly with customersto achieve more using that skill.
Development plans need to be individualized for employees, and that means a certain level of sophistication is required. Employers and their teams should discuss their preferred learning style to discover which type of activities will help them the most. There is no point sending an employee on an academic-intensive course if they are mostly a “hands-on” learner.
Depending on each individuals learning style you might consider various options, such as:
- Coaching and mentoring
- Traditional “in-person” classroom style courses.
- Access to specific impact projects for “on-the-job” training.
- Online learning courses.
Performance development plans are particularly important for ambitious employees who have a clear view of how they would like to be promoted within the organization. They need to fully understand which competencies are required in order to achieve the promotion and be effective in that role. The performance plan should outline a clear path for them to achieve this goal. Therefore it is important that for ambitious employees, the development plan does not merely focus on skills required for the current role but also on new ones that will be needed to progress.
This not only increases the employee motivation and loyalty to the company, but it also helps them to better understand their place in the company, and how their contribution helps both them and the company succeed together. Research indicated that providing employees with context gives more meaning to their work and helps improve overall performance throughout an organization.
Goals are typically informed by the gaps in competencies or behaviors, so the annual appraisal is the perfect time to identify any competency or skills gaps indicating opportunities for development. Whether you use 360-degree feedback mechanisms or simply joint feedback from both the supervisor and employee, this is an enormous opportunity to discover new areas to help both the employee and business grow together.
An important aspect to using the appraisal meeting as a jumping off point for development is to keep it completely separate from any compensation related discussions. Performance management training and development discussions should be entirely separate from assessment, promotion or pay discussions.
If you have a fast-growing company, you may need to allow for an additional level of flexibility in your development plans. Holding employees to development goals that are no longer relevant to their changed role is both pointless and demotivating.
Each time a person’s role changes or when there is significant change in their responsibilities you will need to jointly revisit the performance plan to make sure it is still relevant.