Move Learning Off the Back Burner
By Jay Forte
What employees really want and need in the workplace is the ability to learn and grow. However, this doesn’t always have to look like formal education. In fact, some of the best learning is done in the moment, on the job and within the conversations between manager and employee.
There was a time when the role of the manager was to control and direct. Issue orders. Tell people what to do. Be responsible for results. That type of strong central manager made sense in a workplace of repetitive tasks, where the manager’s primary role was to drive efficiency and effectiveness.
But over time, manufacturing moved offshore and left us with a service economy, one that requires employees to be more interactive with customers. Managers today are still held accountable for efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to their employees’ output, but the process by which to generate those results is much different. Employees shouldn’t be micromanaged to such a degree that they feel stifled when directed. Instead, to connect wisely with customers, employees need to be guided, developed and coached.
This is why there is such great value in making learning and development a daily event.
Because your employees are the visible brand of your organization (to both customers and fellow employees), they need your constant conversation and development to be effective and adaptable in a constantly changing world. The demands of their jobs are always changing. The needs and wants of customers are always changing. The role of technology is constantly changing the experience. In all of these places, you – the manager – are the key to interacting with your employees to assess their abilities to determine what needs development or realignment. It is your role to assess through dialog, discussion and interaction what’s working and not working with your employees’ performance so you can help them develop a plan to improve.
This is a trend that won’t be going anywhere soon. Millennials (now 50% of today’s workforce) share that what they want and need in their jobs are the following:
- alignment (connect them to jobs that need what they do and like best)
- relationships (increase meaningful time with their managers in a supportive and value-based relationship) and
- development (help them constantly learn, grow and expand their abilities).
Making learning a daily event helps to deliver all three of what employees say they want and need to be engaged and perform.
Think about the learning opportunities you offer to your employees and ask yourself these questions:
- What has to change in the way you engage with your employees to increase the frequency and focus on learning and development?
- What skills do you need to develop and what self-awareness do you need to have to be able to be a successful manager for your people?
- How will working with a coach help you become more successful with your employees – to help them become more engaged, more productive and more successful?
Work with a coach to develop your greatest abilities, then transfer the lessons learned in your coaching to act more coach-like with your employees. This will help you make your daily conversations with your employees more focused on learning, growing and developing.
Move learning off the back burner and into your daily conversations.