Repeated studies have shown that a key aspect of employee engagement and retention is employees feeling they are growing and developing. If employees are able to link their personal and professional growth to the organization, they are more likely to stay and participate at a higher level through increased commitment.
Growing and developing is a two-way partnership between the individual and the organization. I think of it as the ‘soft contract’, the rules of engagement for how both parties can achieve maximum value from the relationship and there are three core principles which underpin this thinking.
- An individual’s never-ending thirst for learning
I believe every person owns their own performance through the conscious choices they make and one of those is undoubtedly having an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions. But the day you stop LEARNING is the day you stop EARNING! It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
What if you and every single one of your people, at the end of each working day, asked a simple question: ‘What have I learnt new today which is going to help me to be even better tomorrow than I was today?’
- The singular most important question for unlocking people potential
On the whole, organizations are poor at setting their people up for success. Changing that hinges on asking the singular most important question for unlocking people potential:
‘Do your people know what world class looks like, feels like and acts like from a behavioral and numerical key performance perspective?’
Now pause for a moment. If you have 1, 10, 100, 1,000, or 10,000 people, and you asked that question right now, how do you think they would answer? I guarantee you would hear a broad range of ideas rather than a clear and unified response. That’s a serious issue. If you haven’t created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for their role, explained to them what great looks like and set them up for success it’s almost predictable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what great looks like.
Aligning perception and reality so there is only ‘one version of the truth’ is critical to unlocking and harnessing the power of your people asset. More importantly, asking this question should not be an annual tick box exercise; roles evolve and, therefore, regular check-in and clarity management is essential.
- Empowerment without enablement is a train crash!
I wish I had a pound for every time I’d coached a leader or manager and heard them complain that, despite their efforts to empower their people, they’re just not seeing the results they were expecting.
The challenge is that empowerment is an overused word that means little without enablement. The one without the other is simply a train crash. If we really want to set people up for success they need to be enabled with the mindset (the attitude, determination and will), skillset (the specific technical or soft skills to excel) and toolset (the tools to do their specific job) to truly unlock their potential and deliver excellence within their role.
Delivering these key components of enablement begins with an individualized learning and development plan for each employee. Individualization of learning and development needs is not a new idea but it is still a fairly uncommon one. Often training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.
Highly energized and engaged individuals are those who deliver superior and sustained results and who are prepared to go the extra mile by tapping into their optional and discretionary commitment. Put simply, they have skin in the game!
Royston Guest is author of Built to Grow, a blue print to help entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders understand the guiding principles of accelerated, sustained and profitable business.