More and more, employees in the workplace are asking for different types of growth and development opportunities, and organizations are eager to provide for this need. However, employees are asking to go beyond the classroom training that we have traditionally provided. They are looking for development that extends into weekly, monthly and yearly growth, and they are asking for help. How can organizations respond to their employees’ desire to develop? There are three areas organizations must focus on.

Teaching Ownership

Organizations must help their employees understand what it means to “own” their job and their development. There is a misconception that leaders must own the development of the people they lead, but each person must own his or her development. Leaders should be open to partnering, but employees must decide why, what and how. Leaders must be willing to help by coaching them and partnering with them to remove barriers. Some leaders aren’t great coaches, and that’s OK, as long as they help their employees find the right coach.

Offering Coaching Guides

Coaching is a must-have for employees in today’s workplace. Employees want a safe place where they can be vulnerable in discussing their gaps, and they need a guide to help them stay on the path to ownership in their development plans. Sometimes, this guide may be their manager; other times, it may be a development coach provided by the organization as a benefit to its employees. Employees’ goals may include business-related, financial, or health and wellness goals. It is important to have someone who understands and specializes in helping with multiple types of goal achievement. Many employees haven’t experienced robust goal development, and a guide in this process can help them achieve breakthroughs.

A Willingness to be Uncomfortable

If an organization is building off of the must-haves of teaching ownership and offering coaching guides, they are opening the door to real development for their employees. With real development comes a real opportunity for being uncomfortable. As author Alan Cohen says, “Personal growth is not a matter of learning new information but unlearning old limits.” New growth often challenges what we know, what we thought, how we saw things and how comfortable we were. It pushes us to go beyond and step into new learning and new application. It opens the door to vulnerability and takes many learners to a place they may not have been before. Understanding ownership and having a coaching guide lays a strong foundation for learners to understand the importance of being comfortable with discomfort. As new growth occurs, people push themselves to try new things; some will work, and others won’t.

I recently talked with an individual who told me all the different “development” opportunities he participated in and assessments he took. My question to him was, “What did you do after you completed those assessments?” He looked puzzled. I said that assessments are great starting points, but taking an assessment will only result in awareness, not growth. The person didn’t realize he needed a laid-out development plan to work on applying the knowledge gained through these assessments. He didn’t know, because he hadn’t been in an environment that offered the first two must-haves.

For so many, development is going to a class or taking an assessment. While these activities are a good start, people who are truly successful at growth push further with plans that cause them to apply their learning in unique and vulnerable ways. They don’t see success or change overnight, and they know true development will take time and applying new techniques in ways they haven’t before. This new application will most likely be uncomfortable, but they did something many have feared to do. Organizations that acknowledge that growth will cause discomfort and are willing to celebrate it will see a different level of growth and enrichment in their cultures.

Is your organization assessing these must-haves for a strong growth and development culture? How is it showing them in action? Do you have a good process to measure these processes? Are you leading the way to model this type of development in your culture? If not, your employees will see and feel it.

In today’s workplace, employees want to grow and develop, and your business growth and outcomes depend on it. Companies with “comprehensive training programs” reportedly have a 24-percent higher profit margin than companies that “spend less on training.” Not only will your employees be happy with greater development opportunities, but your company’s bottom line may be stronger, too. Take hold of these three must-haves today, and start working to ensure development and coaching are working hand-in-hand as part of your organization’s growth process.

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