Your employees are your number one investment. Their actions, skills and knowledge are going to help your grow your business or sink the ship. Assuming you would choose the former, now is a good time to take a look at how your people match up with the future growth of your company.
Most likely, your employees’ performance can be bucketed into three categories. Some are still not up to speed in their current role, others are comfortably meeting your expectations and some may be outperforming. It’s important to know where your employees are in their development because you and they need to come up with a plan for their growth to keep them energized and engaged in supporting your business.
Various stages of performance
The new or struggling employee
Obviously, employees not performing up to standards in their current work need to focus on the skills to do their job, enhance their knowledge or change behaviors. It’s their manager’s responsibility to identify those undeveloped skills and get them the training they need. They will need a development plan to get them on track. Make sure your expectations fit the development need. Sending someone to outside training that has a skills deficiency is like trying to row a battleship with an oar; it’s not going to happen. The real development of the skill or ability comes with combining the outside training with perfecting the skill on-the-job. Repetition, coaching and feedback are the real ways that employees enhance skills.
Your consistent, dependable employee
Employees who are meeting your expectations are golden because they are helping to sustain your business. This is a good time to find out their development goals. Do they want to stay in their current role or do they want to learn a different part of the business? Take the time to point out other positions or work they can do to contribute to growing your business. Match them up where you expect to need strong consistent team members in the near future. This group of employees can be your strong core. They can move through various positions to get a solid understanding of your business and customers. They need a plan that encourages them to grow through being successful and satisfied with their work.
The overachiever, high performer
The outperformers have likely already told you their development goals and are actively pursuing them. High performers need to be challenged to keep them engaged. Look at these employees to see if they have the skills for higher level roles in the organization either now or in the future. If you believe an employee can meet the requirements with some additional training, come up with a development plan that aligns with your business plan. High performers’ plans may include going elsewhere to achieve goals or gain experience but at least you’re aware of the person’s desires and can plan for it so your business is not disrupted.
It’s most important to have development plans for everyone, including yourself, so you know that your employees are working toward goals that will improve and increase your business growth.
People development plans
No matter which level of development is needed, a plan contains relatively the same components below.
• Identified skills, knowledge or behavior that will be the focus
• Actions the employee will take to learn
• Opportunities to apply the learning (practical application with repetition, coaching and feedback)
• Success measures
Each area for improvement should have a SMART Goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Many organizations make SMART goals mandatory because they clarify the goals and get everyone on the same page. Peter Drucker is known for coming up with the criteria for SMART goals and George T. Doran for formalizing it back in the early 80s and still universally used today. You can find an abundance of information by looking up “SMART goals” on the web.
Hold your employees accountable
One of the most important points of a development plan is that the employee owns the plan and their development. You can help identify areas for improvement, fund training programs and provide opportunities for development but ultimately, the employee is responsible for their growth. As the business owner, you are responsible for opening pathways for them to meet their growth goals and provide feedback along the way.
Developing your people is just one aspect of a people strategy that aligns with your business plan and goals. A people strategy will benefit your business because your people are going to propel you to meeting your business goals.
Next up: People strategy