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IT'S A NEW WORLD OUT THERE . . . Developing and mentoring employees and . . .
Helping them improve their performance.
The purpose of developing and mentoring employees. Creating career development plans.
The best career development strategies.
Becoming a mentor yourself.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
BUILDING BETTER EMPLOYEES
Why is it that so many employees are hired with the best of intentions and then—a few days or weeks after they arrive—they are promptly forgotten? It’s easy to take the orientation and training needs of employees—both new and veteran—for granted. Managers are busy people and so long as there’s no crisis, then there are more important things to attend to. Right?
In every organization, employees have so much to figure out: formal and informal chains of command, the ins and outs of office politics, the right and wrong ways to get the support and resources you need to get your job done, which people are “in”—and which are “out.” And this is just the beginning; employees also have to learn new skills and techniques to improve the way they do their jobs. All of this requires training, and it requires the attention of the managers who are responsible for ensuring their employees have the opportunity to develop their talents.
But here’s the rub: Employee development doesn’t just happen. For employees to learn new skills and develop their expertise and knowledge, both managers and employees must make a concerted effort to ensure employment development stays at or near the top of everyone’s list of priorities. Believe us—the results will be well worth the effort.
WHY DEVELOP YOUR EMPLOYEES?
So, why bother developing your employees? One key reason is that your employees will learn a variety of new skills that will make them better and more effective in their jobs. Not only will they do a better job for
The Management Bible
their organizations, they will do a better job for their customers—earning their long-term business and loyalty in the process. Another key reason for developing your employees is that they will transfer the skills they learn to other employees in your organization—multiplying the impact of your development efforts many times over. Finally, when you spend time developing your employees, you are sending a message loud and clear: Your employees are important to you and worth your time and attention. And employees who feel that you think they are important are employees who will become important, bringing with them a high level of loyalty and commitment.
But, before we get into the details of what employee training and development is all about, let’s first establish exactly what it is that we’re talking about.
Training usually refers to teaching workers the short-term skills that they need to know right now to do their jobs. Development usually refers to teaching employees the kinds of long-term skills that they’ll need as they progress in their careers. In many organizations, employee development is instead known as career development.
We’ll ask the question again: Why bother developing your employees? As it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons, including:
• You may be taking your employees’ knowledge for granted. Just be-
cause your employees aren’t having obvious problems doing their jobs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing their best jobs, or that there isn’t room for improvement. You may have looked at hundreds of resumes to fill a particular position, and interviewed a boatload of people before you found the right person for the job. And while you might assume that this individual knows everything there is to know about the job to be done, there’s a good chance that he doesn’t. Every organization has its own unique approach to doing business, and even the most knowledgeable employee can learn something new. That’s where employee development comes in.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
• Employees who work smarter are better employees. Wouldn’t it be great if all of your employees worked at 100 percent of their potential, at least most of the time? While no employee can possibly be 100-percent effective every moment of every working day (even robots need the occasional maintenance break), employees who are better trained and more knowledgeable about their jobs have the potential to do a much better job than employees who aren’t. Employees who have achieved their development goals simply work smarter. Not only will your organization reap the benefits in greater employee efficiency and effectiveness (well worth the price of admission), but also you’ll sleep better at night—some-thing any manager in any business can appreciate.
• Someone has to be prepared to step into your shoes. Although it may be hard to imagine right now, someday you may decide to retire, or you may be promoted and moved up the career ladder. Who is going to take your place when you’re gone? Developing employees is all about providing them with the skills they need to be able to step into your shoes in your absence. And, while you might not be retiring or getting promoted anytime soon, you might like to take a week or two off. Have you ever envied fellow managers who don’t have to call their offices when they are on vacation? They are able to unplug from their offices because they make a point of developing their employees so they are able to take over when the manager is gone. Guess what? You can, too.