If you surveyed all business leaders, I believe most of them would say they want their employees to thrive and succeed. Aside from my optimistic view that most leaders want the best for their employees, there is also a practical side to employee achievement — successful employees equal successful businesses. Additionally, successful businesses create jobs, which means hiring more employees. It’s the occupational circle of life!
However, employee success doesn’t happen by accident. And not knowing how to help employees grow and develop — or not making it a priority — is where some companies stumble. Just like you have to plant flowers in good soil, ensure they get enough sun, and water them regularly, your employees need the right elements to help them grow, flourish, and reach their potential. If the thought of cultivating talent in your company feels daunting, here are 5 steps to help you get started.
Understanding your organization’s needs can help target your efforts in developing your personnel. What are your strategic goals and priorities, both for the short term and the long term, and what is your game plan for achieving those goals? What kinds of employee talent are required to accomplish these business plans? Once you have this mapped out, you can determine the resources you currently have and the gaps that need to be filled.
Now that you know where you’re going, you must figure out who is going to get you there. Some people will immediately spring to mind in terms of their skills, knowledge, and experience, but don’t overlook the employees with great potential.
To uncover those hidden gems in your organization, consider conducting performance evaluations more frequently than once a year. According to Demetria Miles-McDonald, founder and CEO of Decide Diversity, “[Annual performance reviews are] very misleading as to who's going above and beyond…If you're doing performance reviews on a more regular basis, like quarterly or even monthly, and it doesn't even have to be something that's super formal, then the chances of you identifying someone who is a high potential employee definitely increases.”
These performance evaluations can also illuminate the career paths your employees might be well suited for as well as the opportunities for upskilling that will enable them to progress. Additionally, professional development assessments can help steer your performance conversations to make them more productive. Understanding an employee’s intrinsic behavioral traits and motivators can add depth to your discussions and specificity to the employee’s development trajectory.
Sporadic or one-off training sessions aren’t usually effective at facilitating ongoing talent growth within your organization. Employees often forget what they’ve been taught soon after the session, especially if they don’t have ways of practicing and honing what they’ve learned. And sending personnel to an occasional webinar or class does not send the message to them that your business is truly committed to their growth. To achieve effective and sustained employee development, you must weave continuous learning and development into the fabric of your company culture.
LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky says, “I truly believe that your next top employee is most likely your current employee. And if you focus on skills and understand the skills of your existing workforce, and where you need to go as a company, there’s a huge opportunity to help your top talent find different roles inside of your company instead of learning and leaving.”
A great way to show leadership’s commitment to cultivating talent is through experiential learning — learning by doing. An example of this is delegating responsibilities and projects to personnel to give them opportunities to handle tasks that are new and different from their daily work. Rather than viewing it as simply getting work off a manager’s desk, delegation should involve discussing assignment parameters, clarifying expectations, being available for guidance, and providing feedback. While the tasks should not feel overwhelming, they should stretch employees and help personnel enhance their knowledge and capabilities.
Another example of experiential learning is what LinkedIn calls “tours of duty.” These are rotational assignments given to employees, which in turn, fosters the growth of new skills, experiences, and the chance to explore different career paths.
As employees become more comfortable and confident taking on new assignments and responsibilities, it’s valuable to give them the chance to take calculated risks, try new methodologies, and even make some mistakes without feeling they will be penalized. While it’s important to establish the boundaries employees should work within from the start, offering reasonable autonomy can further develop their independent decision-making skills.
Coaching and mentoring employees is an essential component to cultivating your workforce’s talent. Providing personnel with opportunities to take on new responsibilities or assignments won’t get your staff (or your business) far if there is no one to offer meaningful feedback, provide necessary guidance, and give encouragement. An effective coaching and mentoring relationship is a partnership in which the coach or mentor is invested in the employee’s growth and success and the employee benefits from the coach/mentor’s experience and insight. It facilitates two-way communication: the employee freely discusses their aspirations and the setbacks they’ve encountered, and the coach or mentor guides the employee in working through challenges and celebrates their successes with them.
If you want to cultivate talent in your business, Omnia is here to help! Our independently validated behavioral assessment can give your business data-based insights on what drives, motivates, and challenges your staff. And understanding your employees is the key to unlocking their potential. Contact us to get started!