Most people can picture a circus balancing act: Someone is balancing their body on a rope or ball while juggling several hard-to-handle items. When it comes to business, this act isn’t far off from what managers have to do every day. So how can managers also be expected to help employees learn and develop on top of other work? In an article for Harvard Business Review, Nick Gidwani explains how to support your employees’ learning goals while getting out your day-to-day work:
- Get top-level guidance and metrics.
- Hire to train.
- Treat learning as a shared responsibility.
- Speak at the skill level, not the role level.
Class Is in Session
Developing a culture that has greater emphasis on individual growth requires buy-in from all levels of your company. However, with buy-in there must also come certainty. For instance, figure out precisely how much time your bosses expect your employees to spend learning each week. Then establish metrics to measure if this additional learning is creating the intended results for the business.
As learning becomes a larger part of the workplace, picking up employees with only entry-level knowledge and training them has become more common. Gidwani would employ the strategy of hiring an expert in the field and pairing that expert with beginners in the field who showed the drive to learn. Creating this kind of engaged learning experience can establish a connection between the employee and the company that can keep retention rates up.
Learning isn’t just your responsibility, as a lot of it falls on the employees’ shoulders to figure out what should be learned on their own time or at work. To determine this balance between at-home and at-work, conduct open communication between you and your employee. Being able to openly discuss their learning goals can help you both in making plans for how to structure their education.
Gidwani also says the way in which you talk about learning is important:
If an employee wants to explore a new role in the company, don’t even consider whether you think they would be “a good fit.” Instead, break down the skills necessary to do the role. For example, tell the employee: “You would need to develop expertise with Tableau,” or Excel, or giving presentations. As employees embark on learning paths, offer them honest feedback and suggestions on to how to improve.
By having these conversations at the skill level rather than the role level, you’ll alter the complexion of the work environment. People will feel freer to tell you that they’d like to learn new skills.
You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/08/how-to-support-employees-learning-goals-while-getting-day-to-day-stuff-done