From the second we take our first breath we are labelled, monitored, placed against a graph, pushed towards an assortment of figures, and sent on a continual journey of progression. Although we, ourselves, do not realise it at the time, development plans are implemented from day one. Check-ups following birth are held regularly to monitor our advancement, in infancy our parents are applying techniques to prepare us in our learning and, by the age of three, many toddlers are acquiring an understanding of how to play an instrument or memorise their times-tables in order to reach a certain level of mental and physical capability within a given time frame.
When we reach primary school, development plans become a large focus of our lives. Children are given targets to complete by the end of the hour, the day, the week and even the year. Records are kept for every subject; monitoring progress, or lack of advancement. At the end of the month parents come into school to discuss the development of their child and whether or not little Jimmy will reach his potential at the designated time.
This process continues all the way through to A Levels, where predicted grades and targets are enforced, and the development plan is taken to a whole new level as young-adults begin to map out their future careers. Even at university and postgraduate study, where the level of personal autonomy is tenfold, development programmes are mandatory and accompanied by monthly meetings to discuss progress, how to reach an existing goal, or how to set a new one.
Why then, do development programmes become more of a rarity when we leave the world of academia to embark on a career within the ‘real world’? Within the workplace, often employee development plans are pushed to the side in favour of focusing on the ‘here and now’ rather than the future. Not that employees need to be monitored daily, no one wants a micromanager, but goals and plans dedicated to aid personal progression within work, to establish where these goals fit within the company, and to form a realistic time frame to complete said goals, are crucial.
Why, you may ask? Well, we all know of the age-old proverb ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’. The same applies here. We all differ, and Bennie in the office may learn differently and at a different rate to Amy who sits at the desk next to him completing the same work. By enforcing development plans, not only can we establish how someone works best, but we can identify what makes each individual tick, get the best results out of them and, consequently, create a higher skilled and more motivated workforce.
With a career plan, however, employees can identify their positive qualities and, more importantly, their negative ones, work on them, and progress. If they know that they are unsure of how to use a certain type of software, or that they are late from lunch more than a few times a week, it’s safe to say that these ‘idiosyncrasies’ have not gone unnoticed by their colleagues and peers. Helping them to identify and face their individual issues as a manager is helping them to take the necessary steps to improve.
Although useful, focusing on the negatives is not the entire purpose of a development plan. By creating a development plan, the employee is the one in charge. Providing them with autonomy allows them to take ownership of what they do and see their work not as an item that has to be done, but rather as a means to reach their own goal.
Of course, employee development programs only work if the company really cares about staff experience and their employee’s personal growth. Employees could plan their own development program as much as humanly possible, but without their employer providing them with the opportunities for development, courses, and meetings to discuss their progress, then advancement may be slower than desired.
Companies who decide not to invest in their employees may see a significantly negative effect. For those who leave no monetary budget for advancement schemes may see a detrimental effect to their business. As Michael Leboeuf argues ‘If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know what ignorance costs. Companies that have the loyalty of their employees invest heavily in permanent training programs and promotion systems.’
According to Bagshaw, the ‘dynamic people of today’s dynamic world are attracted to jobs where they can see clear development for themselves, with opportunities spreading in all directions’. Although this message was formed in 1996, the sentiment has not changed, and as a survey supplied by PwC supports, when asked what mattered, 52% of employees from varying companies specified that opportunities and career progression mattered above other factors, including pay! 35% said that excellent training and development mattered above all else, including wages and bonuses, and 74% said that they were ready to learn a new skill.
So, if your organisation does not dedicate time to employee development plans, then don’t be shocked when morale dips and, in the long run, profits fall.
To see what your employees and clients are saying about your business, or to decipher whether or not your company needs more, or better, development programmes, contact Pansensic today. We work with organisations from all over the world in a wide range of sectors. What they have in common is the understanding that the experiences of their customers, staff and stakeholders can provide game-changing insights. We are able to not just simply summarise data but provide a real depth of insight that is more granular, more accurate and more actionable.