Too often we either put employee development at the bottom of the list (if there is a list) or we expect our employees to fend for themselves (not so smart). For employee growth to occur we need to work together, sort of like the parent-teacher relationship when it comes to the education of children. Don´t assume your people know that they need to be invested in their own development, particularly your younger employees. Some people believe that unless a manager or supervisor points out an area ripe for improvement everything is going smoothly. Not so, right? It´s got to start somewhere and as the boss you´re probably the best starting point. Instead of having people guess whose job it is to initiate a program of self-employee development put something into action yourself. The last thing you need to worry about is a staff wondering who started what.
It´s critical for employees to create and then stick to their own plans. That means they need to be committed, but perhaps more importantly they need to know how to develop the plan and then have strategies that will help them work with the plan. Like anything, you need to make time for such planning. As much as we´d like a few extra hours to magically appear in our schedules for such undertakings that´s not going to happen.
So do you issue an edict that forces people to get serious about planning their employee development? Well, yes, I think that´s a pretty good idea. Don´t call it an edict though. Let people know that you´re on their side and where your role ends and theirs begins. People generally perform more effectively when there´s some accountability to be managed. It usually engenders some value and you know how I feel about that-when people feel more valued they generally perform at a higher level.
Here´s the thing though: you have to be willing to help an employee when he or she expresses a need for it. And naturally you need to let people know that by asking for help they won´t be penalized. It takes a lot of courage to recognize where one needs to improve. But if you ask people to invest in themselves and tell them that you, too, will make the investment, be sure to come through. Once there´s a disconnect, everyone will know and your program for accountability could wither down to nothing.
Helping employees get back on track takes commitment, smarts, and faith. If an employee undergoing some kind of self-improvement plan at work gets the impression that nothing he or she can do will change the circumstances then you´re not likely to see any positive results. Do everyone a favor by demonstrating some hope and positive reinforcement.