How Professional Development Will Change Your Organization
Some time ago I was headed to Utah for a climbing trip. I stopped in Grand Junction, CO to visit with an old employee whom I grew close with and had stayed in touch with over the years. During our conversation at lunch he mentioned that he had described me to someone as "The first and only boss that has ever shown a genuine interest in my professional growth and development."
To me, this is one of the best compliments I could ever receive.
He went on to add that during his time working for me he realized how much of an impact a good leader with authentic interest in the professional development of their people had on his loyalty, work ethic and job satisfaction. "WOW", I thought. I need to go see if there is any data on this. After all, he was talking about ME so the possibility of confirmation bias was super high.
Here is what I found out:
1 - According to a survey from ClearCompany, 74% of employees said a lack of employee development activities keeps them from their full potential in the workplace
2- According to Zippia research, 45% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
3- The 2022 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report found that employees believe professional development is the number-one way to improve company culture
4- Stats from Deloitte that show that:
Organizations with a strong learning culture are 92% more likely to develop novel products and processes, 52% more productive, 56% more likely to be the first to market with their products and services, and 17% more profitable than their peers. Their engagement and retention rates are also 30–50% higher.
So I'll give myself kudos for intuitively understanding professional development was important for my teams. But I really didn't get why. And I definitely did not have the above data. So what if we could all be running more profitable, innovative, higher retention organizations with happier more engaged people? Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Professional Development 1-2-3
In order to create a culture of learning that is so valuable to both the employee and the employer, you have to follow 3 steps:
1- Start the learning early
2- Make the learning ongoing and part of the day-to-day
3 - Provide learning opportunities for everyone
1- Starting the Learning Early
- Spend time, money and resources to make sure your employee onboarding is holistic and actually a learning experience. It should do more than just teach them how to fullfill their duties on the job. It should outline and showcase the company culture, expectations, how and where to find support and get questions answered, introduce the new employee to other team leaders, departments and functions in the company.
- Mentor programs go a long way. When new frontline workers join, give them a buddy or a mentor who will be passionate and helpful in making their experience an enjoyable one.
- Ask early and often what the new employee is interested in. Find out what their aspirations are and begin to match that to company needs
2- Make the Learning Ongoing & Part of the Day-to-Day
As the business grows, you will only be able to grow quickly when you’ve developed people from within. This requires a built out and executed professional development plan and process.
- Managers should be required to be having coaching and development conversations with their direct reports
- There should be money in the budget for professional development opportunities for your teams and individuals. Subsidizing certifications, going to seminars and conferences, etc.
- Have a clear process for identifying talent and nurturing it.
3- Provide Learning Opportunities for Everyone
In my consulting business, I offer coaching. Only in one instance have I had a client that has hired me to coach someone who is an individual contributor or front line worker. Everyone I am coaching is a manager or above. Often close to executive or senior leader of some kind. I think it's very unfortunate that younger, earlier-stage career folk are not getting coaching. Imagine the impact if more of your front line workers were getting access to private coaching sessions to level up their abilities.
I get it though. Private coaching is expensive. But what about other opportunities:
- Group coaching or classes & seminars that will help level up a group or team
- Job-trades where employees are paid to work in or shadow another department to learn new skills or job functions
The data is clear: invest in a culture of learning and development, and your business will thrive. In early 2024, Rise Above will be launching a new and exciting resource for professional development. Stay Tuned...