How to Design an Employee Development Program

You must upskill employees without making any promises about perks and promotions post the training or skill development activity. This will lead to undue expectations. The best thing that you could do is tell them about the opportunities they may get to explore if they improve their skills.

Many people have helped us grow and flourish in our lives. Like, the teacher who ignited our curiosity in a unique subject, a partner or friend who help us grow by applauding at our every achievement, and our parents who shared their knowledge and wisdom with us to ensure that we grew into fine individuals. Where would we be if these people and others had not contributed to our development?

Development and growth are a continuous process, and an employer should ensure that their employees develop new skills and acquire knowledge constantly for the company’s healthy growth. This kind of employee development will ultimately lead to growth in business and result in better profits for the company.

An employee development program is the best way to provide a much needed productive push to the workforce in your organization. Thorough employee training programs will help both your old as well as your new employees to learn, improve and advance. Such programs also have a positive impact on the organization.

Today, modern employees want a meaningful and vibrant employee development program. Millennials want to be financially stable with the job they do, find a proper balance between their work and family commitments, and expect value-based benefits from the organization to engender a sense of loyalty towards the company.

Hence, employee training and development programs is a need of the hour. Employee development is the process of helping your employees improve their existing skills and gain new ones while on the job. This prepares them for newer responsibilities and roles. Such programs also train your workforce to become leaders. However, most of the times, this depends on an individual’s interests and abilities. Every employee is not interested in being a leader. So, do not apply the same career development program for all employees in the organization. A successful development program is the one that is customised to the needs and abilities of each employee, understanding what is required of them.

So, let us discuss the key steps to design a comprehensive employee development program :

Step 1: Organize your needs

Take some time out from your routine business meetings and think and evaluate your organization. Where you are? Where do you want to be or go? What are your goals, challenges, and opportunities? How can you strengthen and shape your employees to achieve the desired objective? Such questions will show you the facts and will help you identify your improvement areas. We’ve listed below a few more questions that an employer can ask themselves about their organization. These questions will help you design an employee development program.

  • Are there skill or knowledge issues among the employees?
  • Are you able to lure the right talent?
  • Are your development and training programs aligned with the strategic needs of your company?
  • Do you align your benefits with the priorities of your employees?
  • How do you improve and measure employee well-being?
  • Are you grooming your employees for your succession plan?
  • Are you taking adequate measures to reduce attrition or turnover?
  • Are you up-to-date with the changes happening in your industry?

It is important to think prudently about the issues mentioned above. Ask industry leaders or your trusted associates for their views and suggestions. Make a list of all the problems and its solutions and arrange them as per your company’s priority. Be specific with your answers to get better results, as the list will guide you towards effective implementation of your employee development program.

Step 2: Concentrate on individual employees

The employee training and development program that you devised may affect the entire organization, but it works best when you help each individual separately. There is no point in hoarding your employees into groups to implement the plan. It is the charm of one-to-one collaboration that generates superior results.

Place proper expectations on both employees and their supervisors. Explain to them that they should work on personal employee development for the proper growth of every individual. Supervisors should arrange a one-to-one meeting with each of their employees to address the needs, interests, abilities and professional accomplishments of the employees. Here, the supervisor must give more emphasis on listening to the employee than talking. Below is a list of questions that could launch a conversation:

  • What more skills do you require to do the job?
  • Tell us about your accomplishments while working on a particular project.
  • How can we help to improve the performance?
  • Are you interested in some other position within the organization?
  • What is your career goal?
  • What will help you in progressing further?
  • What kind of obstacles do you face while achieving your career objectives?
  • How can we help you advance your career in this company?

The essence of this conversation lies in asking specific follow-up questions. in addition to the ones above, to thoroughly understand the situation and the mindset of the employee. Employees should be asked to work collectively with the supervisor to set measurable and specific goals by utilizing the appropriate resources. Doing so helps to design a foolproof employee development program.

Step 3: provide the right opportunity

Once you’ve discovered the needs and wants of your employees, you can then devise various effective ways to help them move closer to achieving their goals. It works best if the manager or supervisor has some resources that are ready to propose to the employees during their meeting. The availability of resources leads to effective planning and skillful execution. It is better to collaborate and execute the plans in the right away rather than plan another meeting to implement the resources.

Below are some of the popular resources that you can provide at the workplace for employee development.

  • Coaching
  • Cross-training
  • Mentoring
  • Job enrichment
  • Stretch allotments
  • Job rotation
  • Job shadowing
  • Succession plan
  • Corporate university
  • Group training sessions (when many employees share a general need)

Online resources

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Slideshows
  • Ebooks
  • Classes or lectures
  • Whitepapers
  • Quizzes
  • Articles

Other resources

  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Seminars, events and conferences that happen within the industry
  • Providing membership with various organizations that render training and networking opportunities

These activities will engage and encourage your employees to excel in their endeavours. Also, the employee will feel accepted, wanted and recognised for their efforts and hard work they put into the company. There are lots of other traditional as well as innovative ideas that you can think of to develop and improve the skill and knowledge of your employees. So, find out the right options for that particular employee and come up with plans for him or her in your employee training and development programs.

Also, although you must provide your employees with resources, avoid making any promises to your employees about perks and promotions post the training or skill development activity. This will lead to undue expectations. The best thing that you could do is to advise them about the opportunities they have if they improve their skills, encouraging them to want to improve.

Step 4: Examine the outcomes and refine the strategy

Once the employee development program is implemented in the organization, follow the steps mentioned below to help you push your employees to continue reaping the most benefits out of the program.

For an employee

Supervisors should regularly meet with individual employees to evaluate their progress, applaud their accomplishments, as well as discuss the way forward. During this step in the career development program, ask them the following questions: Were there any unexpected difficulties or errors? And, how can/did you overcome them? Did you find any new opportunity or solution? Have your personal circumstances, career goals and needs changed since your training?

Such questions will reveal the true impact of the employee training program. Also, no program should be rigid. The purpose of the program is to deliver results. If it is not doing so, it must be adjusted customised and modified constantly. Only then will your employees thrive.

Additionally, the communication lines should be open and transparent between the supervisor and the employee. This will give an idea of what’s working and what’s not; accordingly, improvements and modifications could be brought into the program to make it more effective.

For the organization

Focusing on employee development is like improving each of your employee’s individual career development plan. By doing so, you get to assess their progress, measure the results, consider the obstacles and opportunities, adjust strategies and goals, and repeat each process regularly.

So, how will you, as an employer, implement the steps?

Understanding that no two companies are identical in their functions, you must identify what serves another company’s purpose may not serve yours. So, consider what is practical for the structure and size of your organization.

Also, it is important that you give a competent person the responsibility of the employee training program. This individual is to help you achieve your objective, so choose the right person for the job. And, consider an effective way to evaluate the outcomes and make it a point to add value to the employee training and development program by adding something new to it every once in a while. Constant improvements will increase the value of your programs, leading to overall development.

Hence, when you are developing an employee development program, search for motivating stories from within your organization. Find a story that everyone can look up to and get motivated to excel. When an individual sees the results for real, they will be compelled to excel in their field of expertise. Also, the goal of employee training and development programs should be to bring out the hidden potential in every person in the workforce. Most of the times, employees get lost in the daily routine of a 9 to 5 job and family life. This makes their life boring and uninteresting. A career development plan will help them retrospect their carers and their purpose in life. And, once they find their true purpose and set their career objectives, they will improve their performance, which will boost the growth of the company a whole.

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