It’s hard to think of an important aspect of management that is more neglected than individual development planning. As a consequence, companies typically pay the high price in the form of the loss of top young talent.
A Harvard Business Review article, “Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt” conducted an analysis of young high achievers and concluded that many of the best and the brightest are not receiving the career development support they desire.
The article stated, “Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they’d like their employers to do, and found some large gaps. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.”
There are two primary reasons that companies neglect the individual development process:
1. We tend to focus most on the here and now
Managers naturally tend to be most focused on essential day-to-day operations and less interested in longer-term activities perceived as having less immediate payback.
2. There’s just no time for it
This is another poor excuse. There’s always time for important activities. If you believe that development planning is a valuable managerial function, HR must make it a priority and create an expectation that ‘building talent’ is an obligation for all leaders.
Here is why development planning makes good business sense:
1. People care if you take a genuine interest in their future
Development planning should be something a manager takes a real personal interest in – not an HR-driven mandate.
2. It helps builds loyalty, and loyalty increases productivity
Taking an honest interest in someone builds loyalty. Employees feel as though the company is investing in them. Loyal employees are more engaged, and engaged employees are more productive. Talented people naturally want to advance, and appreciate the support in the process.
3. Capable ambitious young employees want training, mentoring and coaching
They want to gain skills. They want to become more versatile and valuable to an organization. If your company doesn’t provide it, enterprising employees will go elsewhere for it.
Key HR Action takeaway: Development planning doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. At its core it’s mostly a matter of good managers taking the person-to-person time to understand their employees, recognizing their skills and opportunities, and documenting them in an agreed-upon Individual Development Plan.
If you’re struggling with creating effective Individual Development Plans CAI can help.
Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team. He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.