A recent Gallup survey found that one of the things employees want most from their managers is the opportunity to learn and grow.
With our new hybrid workplace, these statistics clearly indicate that organizations need to implement more learning and development (L&D) opportunities. In fact, a McKinsey survey of executives, Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) and L&D leaders found that 60% planned on increasing L&D spending and 66% were intent on expanding employee training hours over the next few years.
A cornerstone of Betterworks, professional L&D is essential to both the growth of the employee as well as the company. But it isn’t so clear cut. There needs to be a well-defined understanding of an employee’s strengths combined with L&D that builds on them. Additionally, they should align with the transparent and concise objectives of the organization with consistent coaching and feedback mixed in.
Identifying Your Strengths and Finding Your Path
My own path to Betterworks was a novel one. I began my career as a quantitative consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. Soon, I became head of analytics at Novartis. I parlayed my industry experience and love of analytics into building software for pharmaceutical companies. Eventually, I built my own human resource (HR) technology company, Hyphen. Betterworks acquired it in early 2020. Though it feels like a lot of directions and changes, I played to my strengths and interests to learn and grow.
I am not alone in having a patchwork of seemingly disparate positions in various organizations. Many of us make multiple career changes throughout our professional lives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger baby boomers (those born between 1957 and 1964) changed jobs (defined in the report as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer) an average of 12.3 times from ages 18 to 52. The average for men was 12.5 jobs and for women 12.1.
It begs the question: How can we, as organizations and leaders, do a better job of identifying potential, playing to employees’ strengths and interests, fostering an environment of learning, and ensuring their career development? I think the answer lies in these three areas:
- Find the common thread: What are the one or two constants among your employee’s strengths and interests? In my case, it was the analytics. I had a passion and focus for it. Identifying and playing to each employee’s strengths and interests is the first step in figuring out where they fit in the organizational puzzle and how they can meet individual, team, and organizational goals. Performance management tools as well as regular employee-manager communication help to fine-tune this process.
- Enhance potential through professional learning and development: Learning is at the foundation of our work. Employees who are learning and growing professionally have more job satisfaction. They feel valued and more motivated, especially if their L&D is closely aligned to their own strengths and interests as well as the organization’s strategies and goals. Organizations will enjoy higher rates of employee attraction and retention. L&D also builds resilience into the organization, since employees now have the skillset to adapt, stretch and challenge themselves through professional development. Employees who have these opportunities are more likely to challenge themselves by asking, “What’s working and what’s not?” and “How can I contribute to the solution?” Those are the employees who move the needle on an organization’s goals.
- Close the loop by aligning your employees with the organization’s strategies to yield results: Strategies should be concise and transparent. Every employee’s goals should be linked to the organization’s desired outcomes as well. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a critical component to this process. With the right performance management platform, employee goals will be updated automatically. Leaders then know everyone is moving in the right direction. Regular feedback and coaching will keep employees engaged by encouraging good communication and connection between them and their managers. It also keeps them on track to meet these quarterly and annual goals through progress check-ins at the same intervals. The closing of the loop is even more critical now that we are in a hybrid workplace.
When we commit to helping the employee tap into their potential through L&D, they become more connected to their goals and the organization overall. Engagement through L&D, clear goals, and consistent, open feedback and coaching are the keys to aligning them with their strengths, interests, career growth and the desired results of the organization.