In an earlier post, I covered 3 levers L&D can ‘pull’ to ensure employees are getting development, even when busy.
One of those key levers that L&D can ‘pull’ is to utilize the influence of leaders and managers to encourage employee development.
Watch the video below to find out how you can do this (see article below for more information).
So how can we get that leadership & management to influence employees to continue their development even when they are busy?
1. Encourage leaders to emphasise the importance of employee development
Let’s start with informal encouragement. Leaders can emphasise the importance of development through events, emails, 1-2-1 conversations and other communications.
If they believe in development (and it’s really important that for this to work they need to believe in the power of development, the importance of development for improving employees & the organisation), they should be informally suggesting it, and recommending it to employees.
2. Build development into objective-setting and performance management discussions
On the flip side of informal encouragement is more formal approaches. This would include appraisal discussions and employees’ objectives.
For example, when setting objectives, rather than just setting performance objectives (such as targets in sales and developing thought leadership) you can include completing certain development programs or courses to help them improve. (Although you’d hope that they would frame it not only as attending, but learning from it, and using it to do something so that they’re being clear on the benefit that they’re expecting from it.)
3. Set targets / budgets for use of development resources
Another way is to use budget. You might say to managers: “You’ve got this pot of time / money to spend on training or development resources provided by learning and development. If you don’t use it then…(they lose it / some other negative result)”.
This way they can actually mandate to employees that they’ve got to complete it.
4. Encourage managers to make recommendations of development resources
In addition to informally and formally emphasising the importance of development resources, leaders and managers can make specific recommendations.
So if you’ve got your head of sales, and he’s saying “here’s the top sales books that I’ve read over the last five years. My favourite three are these…”, that’s a really powerful message to go to your sales staff to think about actually their personal development.
Leadership might also identify courses that they have been on and found really powerful, and as a result recommend them to others.
It doesn’t just have to be leaders and managers as well. You can also use it from other experts, or other successful people. So for example the top salesman, even if they’re not a manager or leader, asking them what books, courses etc. they’ve drawn from is powerful as well.
5. Ensure employees are given ‘space’ for development
Managers can also help by giving space for employees’ development. Often one of the complaints that I hear is that employees say: “Well, I signed up for the course, but then my manager said I’ve got to go to this client meeting / team meeting, and as a result I had to give up my place on the course, and I didn’t want to.”
So managers need to make sure that they give employees the opportunities to go onto those courses, and that they protect those commitments too.
So again, if your leadership and managers are bought into development, and that one of their priorities is improving it as well, then get them to give that space to the employees. Whether it’s just not getting them to cancel, or actually getting them to protect that space.
For example, they could say, “Right, the whole team will take one afternoon a week for development time, whether it is e-learning, videos, or a training course, or whatever.” (That would be an extreme version, but it could work.)
Important pre-requisite: Leadership buy-in
Now something I keep on mentioning is that is is really important that leaders and managers actually buy in to continuous development because if they don’t believe in this, or it’s further down their priority list, then they’re not going to do this.
So for them to do this, you need to be really clear about what’s the benefit that the development will be providing to their employees, managers, and the organization. You need to prove to them that the development will deliver that benefit, and get them engaged so that they believe in it.
So I hope that’s really useful. I hope you can use those approaches in your organization, so your leaders and managers truly support employees in taking time for the development, and help them prioritize it appropriately.
Thank you so much for the comments so far, I really appreciate it. Please comment below with your questions, or feedback on how you utilize leaders in your organisation. I’ll do my best to answer every response, thanks in advance.