- 3 MINUTE READ -
- Most employees think of jobs as opportunities to grow
- Growth opportunities drive employee engagement and retention
- The work environment determines growth potential
- Managers are responsible for the work environment
Most professional growth conversations are afterthoughts. They take place after performance and compensation reviews. That's a problem. Professional growth is a top priority for most employees. It's not an afterthought. For many, it's as important as pay, and that makes it a form of compensation.
Professional growth is hard to define. For many, the metrics used to monitor growth are titles, promotions and pay. That's a big problem. Title changes, promotions and pay increases are infrequent. When they're growth markers, it's easy to feel stagnated.
THE RIGHT CONDITIONS
Developing people is like growing a crop. You have to create the right conditions. Crops grow when they get the right mix of soil, weather, sunlight and fertilizer. People grow when they get the right mix of opportunity, challenge and support. Think of times in your life when you grew the most. The conditions were likely favorable for growth. You were given new opportunities, had good role models to follow, and access to timely feedback and coaching.
Few employees have a professional growth plan in place. Leaders are missing out on one of the most effective ways to build trust and their relationship with the employee. A development plan signals to the employee that you care about their growth. The plan enables collaboration on the topic they care about most...THEM! As you execute and update the development plan, professional growth becomes more tangible. It's no longer tied to just title, promotion or pay.
The 5-Star development model is a planning tool. It helps you create the right conditions for their growth and development.
The Model focuses on 5 conditions of growth:
- Things to be doing - one way to grow someone is to help them develop a 1st hand understanding of something new. You do this by putting people in a position to learn through experience. On-the-job training is a form of "experiential learning", where people learn by doing.
- Things to be observing - people learn by watching and mimicking others. This is known as "social learning". Create opportunities for people to observe the performance of others. Job shadowing is an example.
- Networking opportunities - an indicator of growth is one's professional and personal network. You can help people grow by creating "networking opportunities" both inside and outside your company.
- Things to be practicing - skill development offers a tangible sign of growth. Challenge the employee to learn and practice something new. Methods include online coursework and coaching.
- Things to accomplish - the more people achieve the more accomplished and confident they feel. When you have positive and high expectations of someone, they tend to be highly motivated.
Like any planning process, you need to start with certain objectives in mind. The objectives should be the employees, but you need to guide their thinking. Avoid objectives that are outcome based. A promotion w/in a specific timeframe is an outcome that neither you nor they can control. Outcome based objectives are faulty professional growth metrics. Why? They don't necessarily reflect growth!
EXAMPLE - 90-day development plan for a sales person
- To do - "Start using our CRM now, because we all live in it!"
- To observe - "Go on a few sales calls with Tim, because he's our top performer"
- To meet - "Meet the marketing team, because they're producing your leads"
- To practice - "Work on your demo skills, because people love the product"
- To accomplish - "Meet Top-10 customers in 1st 30-days, because that's where your first commission checks will come from"
NOTE - the development plan doesn't have to be on a fancy form or housed in some system. You can summarize a development plan in an email. It also helps to provide a reason for each growth task. The employee needs to commit to these developmental tasks. The onus is on them. Your role is to facilitate the process and provide coaching support. The more they understand the reason behind each developmental task the more motivated they'll be.
OTHER BEST PRACTICES
- Focus on potential areas of interest - encourage the employee to think about their potential.
- Acknowledge current strengths - focus on the skills, attributes and experience that they're leveraging well.
- Define and clarify standards - the employee has identified potential areas of interest. Begin to explain what's expected of those roles.
- Identify knowledge, skill and experience gaps - focus on their current role and potential areas of interest.
- Explain 5-Star Model - introduce the various growth levers at their disposal.
- Identify the vital few opportunities - focus on the 1 or 2 growth activities immediately available.
- Set growth milestones - this is how you make growth tangible.
- Document the plan - undocumented plans are easily forgotten.
EXAMPLE OF 5-STAR TRACKING TOOL
There are different ways to assess someone's growth. The simplest approach is to track the completion of the growth tasks. People tend to forget the good and remember the bad. By consistently tracking their progress against growth tasks, their development becomes much more evident.
Don't over engineer the growth plan. The only thing worse than NOT having a growth plan in place, is having one and NOT executing the plan.