Have You Asked Your Employees What They Want To Get Better At?

BY Kathy Crosett
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You’ve spent time and money training your employees. They understand the corporate mission, the company’s products and services, and their jobs. You might be inclined to think that once an employee’s performing well at a job, you should leave well enough alone. Wrong! Your employees are counting on you to help them develop goals to reach the next level in their professional development.

Old-​school thinking about employees and work often meant lifetime employment at the same job. No wonder so many workers obsessed about vacations or how soon they could punch-​out on the time clock prominently displayed on the factory floor.

Millennials and Learning

Today’s employees work in a knowledge economy. They spend their days planning, researching and thinking up better ways to reach personal and corporate goals. If millennials make up a large portion of your workforce, and they likely do, remember that they want to learn. Millennials also want a career path and to be engaged in work that matters. As Mark Murphy points out in his recent Forbes column, you should be regularly checking in with employees and asking questions like, “What things would you like to get better at this month?”

Revised Career Paths

Questions that delve into what your employees are thinking give you insight into their anticipated career paths. Your younger workers may have joined your organization just out of college. Since then, they’ve had a chance to experience the business world. They may want to shift into a different professional role. A recent edX survey found that up to 32% of surveyed 25 to 44-​year-​olds have considered a career change. Motivations behind the hoped-​for change range from higher salary 39% to interest in a different field (21 percent).

Promote From Within

If your organization has sufficient resources, you should be striving to help team members move into internal roles they’ve identified as interesting. This strategy benefits both the employees and the company. Employees who stay with you will have a less intensive learning curve. Once you’ve showed your confidence in them, they’ll reward you by working hard and staying loyal. And, if you can’t immediately promote an employee, you can work with them to develop their skills so they’re prepared for the next opportunity.

Not many companies will make this commitment. Instead, reports Margery Weinstein, too many companies compete for resources available in a limited talent pool. Your department heads and HR folks may be the best resources for rolling out either an official or unofficial promote from within plan. In today’s tight job market, the strategy could make a huge difference to your bottom line.