The world of work is evolving, rapidly. Employees are increasingly expected to take ownership of their own development, while employers must work hard to recognise the efforts of their staff.
It’s a tricky balance to get right and begs the question: who is ultimately responsible for employee development - employee or company?
If you’ve ever undertaken a review meeting with an employee, you’ll know how easy it is to fall into the trap of assuming it is all ‘on them’. Why aren’t they performing? Why aren’t they emotionally engaged with the business? Often, the answer lies a little closer to home, which is why companies should look in the mirror just as regularly as their employees.
As the working environment changes and the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) place an even greater emphasis on the performance of human staff, job security is driven by one’s desire to grow. But that burden doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the employee.
It's time to explore the separate roles both the company and employee play in personal development.
With AI making its presence felt in many industries, company bosses have the opportunity to free staff from mundane, unrewarding roles, thus enabling them to have more control over their career progression. However, the role of the company in staff development extends much further:
- Lead by example. Employee development 101, possibly, but it bears repeating. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t cut it in business. Those at the top of the company should demonstrate a desire to develop themselves and not shy away from shouting from the roof tops as the business itself grows. A culture of development and growth is contagious.
- Help employees find the relevant skills. Too much time is wasted on ineffectual training (see below) which often results in the incorrect skills being developed. Companies should work directly with employees to find the most relevant skills for their positions.
- Invest in training (properly). Training is often cast aside as too big an expense, but invest in it properly, and it pays back ten fold in employee development. Companies shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to training and should do all they can to avoid scrap learning.
- Focus on developing soft skills. Motivation, self-regulation and empathy are just three of the soft skills that shouldn’t be over looked in employee development, and businesses can do a lot worse than invest in the services of a specialist for such areas.
We are all ultimately in control of our own destiny, and employees are perhaps better placed than ever to up-skill themselves and create new opportunities. This was highlighted in a recent study of 8,000 UK workers, in which 92% of the respondents confirmed they were confident in their skills.
We can all do more, though:
- Outside learning. Thanks to the role technology now plays in our lives, the ability to learn on the goand away from the office isn’t only accessible to all - it’s fun, too. Employees who actively engage in their own development in their spare time create the best opportunities for career progression.
- Attitude. Positive attitude is a must if employees are to grow within a business. Although the company culture will play a big role in this, it is ultimately down to the employee when it comes to their mood and general demeanour throughout the working day.
- Politics. There are few bigger drains on company resource and time than workplace politics. Employees have a responsibility to keep out of any underlying mistrust of the business or gossip that harms others. By refraining from the dreariness of office politics, employees create far better opportunities to progress within the business.
- Initiative. The company can do everything in its power to help employees develop new skills, but a certain amount of responsibility falls on the individual when it comes to identifying skill gaps. Employees must therefore be prepared to speak up and approach the company when a development need arises.
The responsibility for employee development is split equally between the company and member of staff. In order for the person in question to learn, grow and go onto greater things within the organisation, both parties need to be unafraid to ask difficult questions and challenge each other when necessary.
Business is and has always been a collaborative effort, and the same principal stands for employee development.