Career Development Is a Company Mindset. Is Yours On the Right Track?

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Training and career development is something organisations are actively looking at but many are worried that their budget is not fit to produce results. However, companies should focus on the quality and not get stuck behind the lack of money. Training is not about finances and can be done in multiple different ways. We spoke to Conor Walsh, People Development Officer at DCV, about career progression and how organisations can support new and old employees. More from our January 2023 edition here!

Conor, many companies would say they do not have a budget for training and that is out of their scope. How to convince them to spend more time making their employees better? And is it just about a budget?

When I hear companies talk about not having the budget for Training & Development (T&D), my first question is always how much they spend on recruitment. The financial investment that needs to be put into continuous T&D can be significantly less than the investment into continuous recruitment.

The cost to replace, recruit & train good talent will often outweigh the cost of nurturing and developing existing employees. Training does not always have to come at a high cost either, you don’t always need expensive training seminars or an external trainer to come in.

Often the employee just wants to feel like they are being invested in and they can see how it will improve their career. This can come in the form of internal training. You don’t necessarily need a specialist for this. Often a cost-effective type of training is shadowing. Get a junior employee to shadow someone senior who wants to move into a similar role, the company saves money, and the employee feels like they are progressing.

When we speak about training at the workplace, we often look at the initial stage. But career development is a long process. What steps do you recommend?

Whilst training at the initial stage is important to get a new employee up to speed, this should never stop when they complete their onboarding period or probation. Candidates often state their reason for staying with a company is the investment into their continued development, a clear career path and being given the tools and direction to move along this path.

Therefore, when it comes to employee retention, looking at long term career development is very important. When it comes to long term career development short, medium and long term goal setting is key. The employee needs to know what their goals are and how to achieve them. Regular catch ups to review, adjust and keep on top of these goals is crucial.

I would recommend setting short term goals to hit over the next month, medium goals for the next 6 months and long-term goals to hit over the next 2 years. They need to know what the outcome will be if they hit these goals (career development, promotion, financial rewards, etc) and what steps they need to take in order to hit these goals. These need to be maintained with monthly or quarterly catches up that continue through the employee’s time at the organisation.

How do you make sure this does not feel as if the employee is just being monitored because the leadership team does not trust them?

It is really important to manage expectations on both sides and you should make clear from the outset what these meetings are all about. Often with such meetings people might feel like it is about them justifying what they are doing. Giving as much information from the start and making it clear it is not something that is being done to target the employee is key.

Additionally, just evaluating whether goals have been met is not enough. If the employee has not managed to achieve their targets, we shouldn’t just tell them off. You need to understand the reasons behind it and ask if they need more support and training. Also, look at the goals themselves and evaluate them as you go. They should not be set in stone and you need to adjust them because sometimes they are not quite right.

How to choose which employees are best suited for continuous development when resources might be limited?

Initially every employee should be considered for continuous development and invested in as if they will be with the organisation for the next 20 years, because that will be what keeps them there for the next 20 years. When I say invested in, that doesn’t necessarily mean financially either. This could be an investment of time, training or belief.

After 12 months you will see the individuals likely to go on and progress within the organisation and those are the ones to further invest in. However, the non-selected should still be given some career development through internal training and time given by senior staff.

Who is responsible for T&D and what are the KPIs to measure success?

Training & career development is not down to just a singular person (although it can be!). Often it is a whole team effort. This can be a line manager or a colleague in the same department who has been in situ for longer. It can come from HR individuals or as previously alluded to there can be someone in the organisation who takes the lead role in training & development along with other elements to their role (if you are worried about budget).

KPIs can be tough to measure when it comes to training and development but some areas you can look at are employee retention, self-submitted employee satisfaction ratings, number of employees promoted into senior roles and employee outputs.

How do you motivate someone to support a less experienced colleague and make it not feel like they are babysitting?

The first thing is looking at the culture that is being set around T&D. This should be a company wide ethos that everyone gets involved in. It comes all the way from the director of the company to the newest employee. Senior members need to show that shadowing is something that happens on all levels of the organisation and everyone is doing it.

This also includes delegating tasks to less experienced employees and helping them get used to the tasks they will be performing. ✷

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