Learning Culture

Helping Leaders to be Accountable for Developing Employees

Once, years ago, as an entry level technical trainer in a huge manufacturing facility, the author’s manager suddenly came into the office and started a conversation with “We have to pick some development classes for you! What do you want? Time Management? Or Communication Skills?”

The author curiously asked what was wrong, has something changed? The manager replied with a slightly wild look in his eye: “We won’t get our bonuses unless we develop everyone!” As he had a large team, it was easy to see he was overwhelmed and trying to simply check the box so everyone had a class to go to. The next year, leaders were more thoughtful, and assigning an employee to lead a cross functional team was popular, as well as creating ways to help groups to work better together and writing new standard procedures. Certifications were sought after, education assistance was added as a benefit, and the rewards and recognition system revolved around the accomplishment of learning. Over time, development planning improved, budgets and guidelines were better established and the organization started to realize the benefits through internal advancement for open positions, better retention of key talent and the conversion of internal experts to instructors to share knowledge more effectively. Job ladders, a knowledge sharing repository and a simulation training area were created to great fanfare and visibility. After approximately three years, the use of learning as an every day part of business was successfully established. This was in a time where competition for skilled employees was fierce, and retention of key talent was a high priority. This is why it was a brilliant move to get the manager’s attention by shifting a focus to development planning and changing their reward system to support this business imperative.

In any job market, it is a great loss to wave goodbye to the bright employees the company recruited so hard for after 1-2 years in the job. How about in your organization?

Are leaders rewarded for development planning?

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Or is training and development near the bottom of the list of priorities? Think about ways to change the reward system for learning, and see an improvement in how the organization views and uses learning as a business imperative.

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