If It Isn't Personal, It Isn't Good Business: Four Strategies for Personalized Staff Development

By Didi D'Errico, Vice President of Brand Advocacy, Saba

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A recent Harris Poll survey suggests that lack of professional growth is the biggest reason many workers (47 percent) may be looking to leave their jobs. In fact, that dissatisfaction is driving about one-third of employed adults in the United States (32 percent) to plan a change in jobs within the next six months.

Growth-minded companies need to rethink their stance on career development -- not only making sure it's available to all employees, but making it personal in ways that were not possible until recently.

Personalized Development

Beyond entry-level training, true career-development programs have typically been available to just a handful of a key management leaders in any company. By creating more personalized programs that every employee can access, you'll empower employees to take charge of their career paths and discover hidden leaders across the organization. And by creating more leaders -- at all levels of your business -- you'll likely witness vast improvements in productivity and engagement across the board, too.

Four Strategies for Success

1. Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach. Just as every employee is different -- including in skill sets, backgrounds, personalities, goals and aspirations -- so must their career-development plans be different. Informal, on-the-job learning has more timely, flexible and resonant content and represents the bulk of how most people learn what they need to be effective. When the market changes in a blink, you can't go out and buy content that tells your employees how to react. You need a platform that enables them to share the information in real time and creates solutions on the fly. You need a platform that promotes the exchange of ideas and links to the outside world.

The bottom line: The more social and personalized your training, the better and more agile your business can be.

2. Make employee development a team effort. For personalized development to work best, it can't exist in a vacuum. And it needs to tie in to the organization's current and future talent needs, thus aligning to the organization's goals.

* Learning leaders need the collaboration of the employee and manager.

* HR talent leaders need to build employee-development goals into the performance process.

* Managers need tools, resources and company support for employee buy-in.

* Employees need career-path visibility, encouragement, guidance and one-on-one coaching.

The bottom line: For the best results, your organization needs to implement a program that involves everyone, with contributions coming from all of the key stakeholders.

3. Rethink your performance- management process. According to a 2014 Deloitte article, only 8 percent of companies believe their performance-management process is highly effective in driving business value, while 58 percent say it's not an effective use of time. In fact, the widespread ranking- and ratings-based performance-review approach and the merit-pay matrix can actually damage employee engagement, alienating high performers and causing costly turnover.

Instead, smart businesses are incorporating regular check-ins that cover continuous feedback and long-term development toward career goals. Personalized development is the conversation that flows naturally from a good, regular performance check-in process. This gives both managers and employees a litmus test to measure interests and level of engagement.

The bottom line: To facilitate personalized development, start by reviewing your performance-management process and adding more transparent (and frequent) discussions into the mix.

4. Get Amazon-like recommendations for everyone on your team. Today's technology platforms, such as Saba's Intelligent Talent Management™ solution, Saba Cloud, can create dynamic learning and career paths with highly customized recommendations for content, course and connections -- based on the skills, interests, activities and aspirations of each employee.

Advanced software uses sophisticated algorithms to sift through incredible amounts of data from user input and "learns" from their activity to make personalized recommendations. This type of advanced software can help employees identify skills gaps, take more ownership of their career development, view multiple paths forward, build road maps and access specific tools and learning resources that can help them succeed. It also provides more transparency to managers and talent teams, who can now use the knowledge to build talent pools, as well as coach and develop employees individually.

The bottom line: By using advanced software, HR can easily enhance existing leadership-development programs, while also spreading career- advancement opportunities to virtually every employee, regardless of location or level.

Pulling It All Together

In an era where we've come to expect recommendations in our personal lives for entertainment, events and shopping geared specifically to our own interests and inclinations, it's time our business lives had the same customized options for each of us.

Getting personal is good business. Knowing -- and leveraging -- employee backgrounds and experiences, aspirations and intentions strengthens workforce productivity, engagement and retention, while also aligning talent to your organization's goals for a competitive advantage.

If your company isn't getting personal when it comes to employee development, it's not practicing good business.

Oct 2, 2015
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