Manager-Driven Departments: Who’s Really at the Wheel?
At the heart of every organization are people. And those people are usually overseen by managers.
And what do employees expect of managers? Well, to keep employees engaged, productive, and motivated, employees typically want to feel as if their career development goals are an important part of their performance plan.
But often, career development goals are self-driven, or self-directed. So, instead of providing employees with a wide range of resources that help them acquire new skills, expand their knowledge, and advance in their careers, such as workshops, mentors, subsidies, and performance recognition, they are often directed to online training modules and videos, resource document repositories, and technology tools. It’s a one-way street to delays—from construction work to endless detours.
So, who’s at the wheel? The manager or the employees?
Self-directed learning and informational document resources, while they can be beneficial, are only one component to education and training. What employees need is what is known as Collaborative Coaching for Performance. This style of management focuses on individual and team development. It emphasizes a supportive and growth-oriented relationship between a coach (typically a manager or mentor) and the employee. And it’s geared towards helping individuals improve their skills, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals through coaching conversations.
A Story of Frustration
I’d like to share a story with you. It’s about a manager who is working in a ‘self-directed’ environment. When someone needs help, the manager points them to or shares a document with them. This manager is unhappy with their role and unhappy with the direction (or lack thereof) they are headed in with the company, as well as the inability to get any one-on-one support.
They were not allotted time to complete the training needed to do the job effectively. The classes they wanted to pursue to enhance their skills needed to advance in the company had to come out of their own pocket. They are now considering leaving their role for a job at another company.
Sadly, company turnover rates, low employee satisfaction rates, and a lack of team synergy can be the likely result of too much ‘self-direction’.
Taking Back the Wheel
Within your performance plans and as you practice collaborate coaching for performance, if you want to offer clear paths for career advancement, you have to begin with skills. What skills are needed for each role or tier in the company? Have a skills assessment ready to discuss with employees in your one-on-ones and get a clear picture of where they need to improve or what new skill is required in order for them to advance and grow with the company.
Start with Baby Steps
To start, try to implement at least one of these tools each quarter in conjunction with ‘self-directed’ training:
- Time and People Resources:
- Mentors: Establishing relationships with experienced professionals who can provide guidance, advice, and career support.
- Coaching: Engaging in manager coaching sessions to improve specific skills or address career challenges.
- Time to Learn:
- Having the flexibility to allocate time for learning and development activities, whether during work hours or outside of them.
- Changing the Culture Climate:
- A supportive and inclusive workplace culture that values employee growth and development.
In time, if you don’t already have financial resources in place, you can begin to offer access to tuition reimbursement or subsidies for further education, and/or a budget for attending conferences or workshops.
For employees, remember that you can always try joining industry-specific associations or groups (both in person and online) to connect with peers, access more resources, and stay updated on industry trends.
So, who’s at the wheel in your company? Remember that every employee is unique, and effective career development often involves a combination of the resources discussed in this blog tailored to the employee’s unique goals and circumstances.
Until next time…
About the Author
Cheryl Powell, CEO of Learn2Engage, is in her 27th year as a Virtual Instructional Design and e-Learning Specialist, with clients all over the US and overseas. Additionally, she is a published author of various works of fiction and motivational speaker.
She holds a Bachelor in Business Management, a graduate certification in Project Management, a Master of Science degree in IT Project Management, and a ATD Gamification Level 1 Certificate. She has studied the Adult Learning principles of experts and theorists such as Gagne’s (nine events), Maslow’s (hierarchy of needs), and Dr. Ruth Clark, to ensure her courses, presentations, storyboards, and modules, engage the learner, utilize the proper balance of white space, text and graphics, and result in high Learner Retention rates.
Her clients return year after year for the affordable pricing, her rapid customer response rate, and the benefits they observe in the productivity of their employees after taking her courses.