If all your employees were identical, advising and developing them would not present a challenge. You would only need to perfect your methods.
Organizations, however, are full of variety. You need people with technical skills and soft skills, people who think creatively and analytically, some people who thrive on repetition and others who constantly seek a new challenge. You need introverts and extroverts and people in between.
You have employees who are motivated by financial rewards and those who are motivated by praise. You also have employees who embrace lifelong learning and those who avoid the concept – so it can be a challenge to create a systematic approach to developing and advising your employee teams. Here are some tips on doing it:
1. Define Your GoalsStart by defining the organization's goals. Is the goal to "unclog" your talent pipeline to facilitate succession planning, or do your employees need to acquire specific skills to perform their jobs? Are you attempting to improve morale and retention rates, or do you expect to increase profitability? Have you identified areas in which productivity has been slipping, or are you trying to make operations more efficient? Know what you want to accomplish before you move to the next step.
2. Analyze Employee Needs, Desires
They may not be the same thing. For example, an employee may need to acquire technical skills, but he might rather pursue a degree in communications. You can gain a great deal of insight into employees by interviewing their immediate supervisors and managers. But you will only be able to determine what they want by asking employees directly.
3. Determine Parameters
Early on, you must decide how lenient or strict will you be when it comes to approving classes or training. Must every course be applicable to an employee’s current job? Will you approve courses that prepare an employee for a later position of greater responsibility? Will you approve college classes for only first degrees, or for advanced or second degrees? Are seminars that could make an employee happier, such as training on managing stress or creating a personal budget, acceptable? Or must all training be job-related?
4. Create and Gather Materials
You may need to create or acquire materials to advise your employees. A flyer or brochure explaining the company's educational policy, reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing projected lifetime earnings by degree, and student handbooks from local colleges could all be useful.
5. Remember Your Role
Advising and developing employees is a partnership. Remember that you are there to offer advice and assistance; you cannot force employees to take advantage of your organization's employee development plan.
6. Evaluate the Process
You should evaluate regularly. How effective you have been at each phase? Have you reached all employees you intended to reach? What percentage of employees have taken advantage? Do supervisors feel that performance or morale have improved?
Consider a brief survey for employees covering such topics as their awareness of the development program, their reasons for participating or not, and their suggestions for improvements.
Following these tips can help you create a process that can be repeated, systematically, and be effective for all employees.