In a Harvard Business Review study (July 2012), the article “Why top young managers are in a nonstop job hunt” (Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu) described research based on the analysis of international databases of over 1 200 young high achievers and concluded that many of the best and brightest are not receiving the career development support that they desire. The article went on to say the following:
“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.”
The above seeming neglect of many companies (i.e. an inadequate plan and deficient execution of a system that grows employees) has a direct and indirect impact on costs and sustainability – whilst training its employees is a considerable investment for the company, the costs of not developing staff at all levels can become enormous (ever-widening skills gaps, lost opportunities, best people leaving, rehiring fees, poor customer service, etc.). A focus on training, coaching and mentoring is probably not achieved because companies may have:
- Internal bureaucracy, budget constraints and a politicised environment – onerous approval systems, cost-cutting procedures (where training is side-lined) and selfish personal agendas often mitigate against potential training efforts.
- Too narrow a focus on operations – on account of daily pressure to do more with less, managers tend to focus on daily operational issues and are seemingly not that interested in longer-term activities perceived as having less-certain payback.
- No time – related to the above focus on operational issues, little time, if any, is apportioned to developmental exercises.
Company leadership cannot truly afford to make excuses in this important area of employee development. Training, coaching, mentoring and performance management are ongoing, even daily, leadership requirements – management must apportion time to act on this. The benefits are immense:
- Loyalty – employees respond positively to genuine care and when managers demonstrate concern about their development. When given opportunity, loyalty is enhanced.
- Greater contribution and productivity – employees will rise to the occasion and impart effort into processes and roles when stretched.
- Replication of good practise – an increased likelihood of also being a coach to lower levels once you are being coached and mentored within the organisation.
- Transference of knowledge – through training, coaching and mentoring, the knowledge and skill level base of the company is accelerated and developed.
- Retention of talent – skilled people are less likely to leave if they know that their managers care for them and their development.
Companies need to grow a voracious appetite for employee development. Leadership commitment to engaging staff at all levels forms the foundation to explore opportunities for employee growth and developing their experience. This leads to a huge potential payoff – loyalty, growth and sustainability.