The emphasis on growth and development in the workplace is reaching great peaks. According to the LinkedIn 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. I agree that organizations should be helping their employees learn, but employees also must be active in their efforts and accountable to themselves for growth. In my coaching practice, I’ve found three simple but often underused performance management processes that any manager can leverage to establish accountable learning practices.
I’m always excited when an employee I’m coaching asks for help with development. However, when I discuss with the employee which areas he or she would like to explore, I often receive puzzled looks and the question, “Aren’t you supposed to lay that out for me?”
The answer I always give is, “No. I would love to collaborate with you, but you have to research your interests first. Find out what the paths for development in your interest and growth areas look like. Think about what routes you may want to take and the actions associated with them. Then, let’s discuss how I can help.”
Employees must own their development, and leaders should coach them on how to research and prepare for growth conversations. Leaders shouldn’t lay out development paths for their employees. Each person’s path is different, and employees have to do their part to explore their path. This approach sets up a different type of engagement in the learning and growth process.
When people set goals, the biggest barrier to achieving them is typically time — time to work on their goals, time to reflect on their goals … and the list goes on.
Like anything else, growth and development must become a habit. We find time for the things that are important to us. At work, if we have a deliverable each month, we build time into our schedule to complete it. At home, if we value our physical well-being, we find time each day to exercise. Each time employees have a development goal to accomplish, are they reflecting on how to set consistent time in their schedules to make it a habit?
This piece is often overlooked. As part of your performance management process, encourage employees to build reflection time into their schedule. It may take doing a weekly time study to see how they are investing versus spending their time.
It is important that employees and their managers can measure and review their progress. This step can be difficult, because many development goals don’t have clear metrics, and growth is often uncomfortable. It is important to help employees be vulnerable and talk with others about their goals. Help them review who their trusted partners are before stepping into their growth process. Encourage them to talk with these individuals about what they are working toward and how they’d like to partner with them in the growth process. Upon reviewing, if an employee doesn’t have the right growth partners around him or her, that’s where the manager or coach can help.
Performance management is as much about employees’ accountability to themselves as it is about setting a pathway toward goal achievement. Part of that accountability involves ensuring that the employee has put in the time for research, reflection and review. Making the three Rs part of your consistent performance process will lay the foundation for continued success.