6 Ideas for a Successful Employee Development Program

EE Deve WEB SMLOne of the biggest contributors to poor employee engagement is the lack of a structured employee development program. Several sources suggest that about half of organizations have no employee development program. Some that do have such a program, describe it as broken, or outdated.

Just as with anything, creating an employee development plan involves strategy and prework. This prework begins long before anyone makes a hire, advertises an opening, writes a job description, or even before someone decides what positions the organization will fill. What ideas can an organization implement to ensure that an employee development program is successful?

  • The beginning of any good employee development program begins with the strategic plan. How can you know who to hire and how to develop a new hire until you know what skills you need to meet the demands of your strategic plan? Well, you can’t. Let’s face it, even if you do the steps above, no new hire or employee is perfect, and strategies can and necessarily should change, so there will always be a need for development. Every employee’s development plan should be for now and the future, yet flexible enough to tweak in this fast-paced, change driven world. So now that your new candidate is on board, what are the next steps?
  • One of the best tools to make your job easier is to use assessments. Ideally, the best process is to administer assessments to your top three to five candidates before hire but administering them after hire can work as well. Having the assessment report provides you with a road map about items to include in the employee’s development plan. Depending on the type of assessment you use, you now can see at a glance what the employee needs to enhance, how the employee may handle stress, what motivates the employee, if the employee has the potential for his or her goals, and a myriad of other components that will help build a targeted, yet strategic employee development plan that will benefit the employee and the organization.

        In addition, you will also have information from interviews. If the new hire went through a series of interviews with two or three people; or if you conduct panel interviews you will have   
        information from those that may help with additional components of the development plan.

  • Don’t leave employees out of this planning. After all the program is for them to help you and the organization to reach its strategic goals. In addition, they may provide additional insight s into their KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Attributes.) Assessments are not an exact science, therefore, like employees they are not perfect. Furthermore, interviewers may have biases, short memories, and poor communication skills.
  • Feedback is important for employee development programs. Managers should make it a point to communicate sincerely and frequently. Active listen will play a strong role in giving employees support, especially when they seem to be struggling.
  • Find some fun way to track the successes and the progress of your direct reports. This will help keep them engaged and moving forward to achieve even higher goals.
  • Your coaching skills will come in handy during difficult times, when progress is slow, or the employee becomes bored with the current level, or there may be a delay to the next career step. Coaching sessions are a good time to ensure that the employee has set realistic goals, has the potential for stretch goals, and is working at a reasonable pace.

Employee development programs make a positive impact on employee engagement, succession planning, better productivity, and many other areas to help make your organization more profitable. The prework is well worth the effort.

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Talent Management,, Strategic Planning,, Employee Development