Today’s guest post is by Craig Juengling who will be presenting a session on Thursday April 26th at the Louisiana SHRM State Conference entitled “Becoming the Employer of Choice.” You can find Craig here
The business outcomes achieved with a highly engaged workforce can propel your company to improved market share and profitability… and a significant reduction in absenteeism, turnover, product defects and accidents. Research from Towers Watson helps leaders focus on the five most important drivers of employee engagement. This post will focus on employee development.
There are four major elements to bring a focused and disciplined process to employee development at your company. These elements are derived from employee engagement leaders of the industry like Gallup, Marcus Buckingham, Towers Watson, Dale Carnegie and others.
- Understand and allow your employees to use their strengths. A workplace poll taken in 2001 revealed that only 17% of the surveyed employees felt they used their strengths at work “most of the time”. I would further argue most leaders, managers and supervisors have no clue about their direct reports’ strengths, much less how to use those strengths. You can build a more effective team by hiring people with diverse strengths and then allow them to use them as a team. When you understand their strengths and how to use them, you create an engaged employee as well.
- Encourage professional growth and development. Most people are genuinely curious and desirous of personal and professional growth. Through conferences, coaching, mentoring programs and just being more intentional about giving people the opportunity to take on new assignments and roles, you can demonstrate to your employees how important their personal growth is to you. And while they grow, they become an even more valuable “asset” for the company too.
- Create achievable challenges. When you challenge your employees, you show them you have higher expectations for them and how they contribute. I think you also show them respect when you see their potential. Remember to make their higher expectations achievable. If you raise the bar too high, they will smack into it. I once worked for a guy who set budgets so unrealistically, the incentive plan tied to beating budgets became a disincentive plan. Achievable challenges create the opportunity for personal growth!
- Have an ongoing dialogue about employee performance. Don’t wait until the end of the performance review year to let folks know how they performed; make the conversation continuous. Take every opportunity to recognize the job well done and take advantage of those teachable moments. We all want feedback and some need it more than others. Find balance in your comments, but find the time for the conversation.
Employee development is one of the most important drivers of employee engagement and you have control over it every day. When you invest in your employees, you invest in their future and yours as well.