How much time do we really allocate to the development of our people? The short answer is “not nearly enough.” For the longer answer, there is much to consider. It is both a blessing and a curse that we are extremely busy almost always, and few of us can ever say that we have time to be bored. While we pride ourselves on the excellent job that we generally do in planning and managing, our best-laid plans more than occasionally go sideways. When they do, we are forced to improvise and sometimes take shortcuts in order to manage a given situation. Training, mentorship, and development of our colleagues are often the first casualties of such shortcutting. Think about it, how many times have you recognized the fact that the developmental time that you had planned to spend with your less-experienced colleagues this week/this month/this year just did not materialize as you had intended?
You’ve read in this space previously about the notion of “What gets measured gets done.” This concept has to apply to team development as well. When you and your more senior directors/managers talk about the training, development, and mentoring of your “rising superstars,” what kind of structure do you put around it? Just as we would do with any revenue enhancement or cost reduction plan, we have to consider the following:
- Who is directly responsible for the training & development program?
- Is there a specific and documented roadmap for both trainer and trainee to follow throughout the training & development program?
- Have we built-in and scheduled formal progress updates along the way?
- How will we measure our progress and the progress of those being developed?
- How will we define success (or further opportunity)?
Think about this: when we have open positions or when we are recruiting new talent, we work hard to identify the very precise characteristics and skills that we want to hire. We start out with a very clear definition of the ideal candidate(s) that we seek. However, if we don’t include a development plan (such as the one referenced above) once we’ve hired these candidates, we run the risk of frustrating and potentially wasting that same talent that we worked so hard to recruit in the first place. We all know what happens then; once colleagues become frustrated due to lack of direction or lack of involvement, before we know it, they may leave for what they perceive to be greener pastures, a more defined growth opportunity, many times with a direct competitor.
Crucial to keep in mind is the fact that, while the development of our younger associates and managers is technically the responsibility of our Human Resources colleagues, there is actually no greater responsibility that all of us share on a daily basis. Training and development are cultural; we need to drive the belief in and importance of these principles in all that we do. There will be times when we have to move away from that which causes our days & weeks to be so hectic and re-focus on that which is most important to our mutual success. The ongoing development of our up and coming associates, supervisors, and managers is the responsibility of each one of us, and we must all re-affirm our commitment to them in order to ensure success.
I urge you; step back from your routine of one in-house meeting after another and devote some significant time to the planning and execution of a training and development plan that all on your team can benefit from.