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• Continue self-funded accounting certificate program at local community college.
This career development plan contains each of the five necessary elements as described earlier. Remember: Career development plans don’t have to be complicated to be effective. The exact format of the plan is not important; what’s important is that you create career development plans for your employees.
HELPING TO DEVELOP EMPLOYEES
The role of the manager in developing employees is to help employees figure out exactly what they want to go, and then to provide the
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
support and organizational resources for employees to get there. But employee development is a two-way street, and managers cannot take on this task in a vacuum. Employees must also participate by identifying the areas where development will help to make them better and more productive workers in the future and relaying this information to their managers. Once needs are identified, plans developed, and resources identified, managers and employees can work together to turn them into reality.
In the following steps, we’ll explore the best way for managers to approach the development process with their employees.
Step 1: Meet with your employees about their careers. What’s the best way to determine the path your employees want to take in their careers? Ask them! You might, for example, think that your top software engineer has her sights set on your organization’s chief technology officer position, when she would actually much rather keep coding software. Once you determine where in the organization your employee wants her career to go, then you’ll have a baseline from which to work.
Step 2: Discuss your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Every employee has certain areas of strengths, and other areas of weakness. A decision will have to be made: Do you further develop an employee’s strengths (making him the best die cutter in the business), or do you try to shore up weaknesses (turning a lone wolf, for example, into a team player)? Or do you do both? Be frank with your employee about both his strengths and weaknesses, and then decide where you will direct your focus and resources. Our own feeling is that it’s more important to develop your employees’ strengths (further increasing their value to the organization, along with their self-esteem) than to improve their weaknesses (which may raise these areas only to the barely adequate at best).
The Management Bible
Step 3: Assess where your employees are now. A career plan is like a story arc—there is a beginning, an end, and a lot of events in between. To better understand where your employee should go, you’ve got to first determine where she is now. By assessing the current state of her skills and talents, you’ll end up with an overall road map to guide your development efforts.
Step 4: Create career development plans. A career development plan formalizes the agreements that you make to provide formal support (tuition, time off, travel expenses, and so on) to your employee in developing his or her career. Effective career development plans contain milestones for the achievement of learning goals and descriptions of any other resources and support needed to meet the goals that you agree to.
Step 5: Follow through on your agreements, and make sure that your employees follow through on theirs. Once you agree on specific career development plans with your employees, be sure that you uphold your end of the bargain, and that your employees uphold their end as well. Be sure to check your employees’ progress regularly—once every quarter would not be too often—and if they miss schedules because of other priorities, reassign their work as necessary to ensure that they have the time they need to focus on their career development plans.
Career development is something that tends to get put off because of other priorities. And, even when it is conducted on a regular basis, the frequency of discussions is often few and far in between. Many managers, for example, conduct career discussions only when they conduct annual employee performance appraisals. While this is certainly better than never having career development discussions at all, this really isn’t often enough—especially as most businesses find themselves in a state of constant whitewater change, where markets and technology are anything but stable and predictable.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
Ask Bob and Peter: I am an office manager of a doctor's office, and we recently added a new doctor. This new doctor has chosen one staff member to be his "pet." He has asked that we lighten her load, pitch in to help her, and so on. When I instructed her in writing to complete a project previously assigned, he told her she did not have to do it because my request that she explain why she had again failed to do something was too harsh. Please offer your suggestions.
We all have favorites in our personal and business lives—people with whom we prefer to spend our time. However, when a business owner or manager gives preferential treatment to certain employees over others for reasons that aren't based on their performance, there is a serious problem—one that must be addressed immediately. As office manager, it's your job to supervise the administrative staff. The new doctor is not only confusing the lines of authority within the office but also undermining your ability to get your job done. Our advice is to first sit down with the new doctor for a little heart-to-heart discussion. Explain that it's not fair to the rest of your staff when he plays favorites and that his actions are creating confusion about who is really supposed to be in charge (you!). If he doesn't take your message to heart, approach the other doctors in your office and ask for their help. They may not be aware that there is a problem, and once they are, they should realize that it's in their best interest to fix it. Good luck!