5 Tips to Improve Performance through Learning and Development

recent study by McKinsey has identified what it refers to as ‘The Great Attrition- a record number of employees looking to leave their jobs due to the pandemic changing what people expect from their employers. 40% of employees said they were likely to leave in the next 3-6 months, with over 50% of employees leaving because they don’t feel valued by their manager or because they don’t feel a sense of belonging at work.  

 

 “Organisations that learn why and act thoughtfully will have an  

edge in attracting and retaining talent.” 

 

One of the questions raised by McKinsey is whether organisations offer their employees career paths and development opportunities. Benjamin Franklin once said that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest” and by encouraging our employees to seek to improve themselves through acquiring knowledge and developing their skills, we can not only improve their individual performance but we can also increase their motivation, enhance job satisfaction (with 94% of employees saying they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development) and have a direct impact on organisational performance and profitability.  

Given the benefits of learning and development for individuals and for organisations, it is not surprising that Google found that their most effective managers actively support their team’s career development and discuss their performance. 

Here are 5 tips on how you can encourage your employees to grow and develop in their careers:  

1. Understand their individual career goals

By having regular one-to-one meetings with your team members, you can encourage them to share their personal goals and career aspirations. Whilst people may have an idea what they would like to do in their career, they often don’t know how to achieve it. By taking time to understand their developmental needs and goals, you can help individuals to map out a clear path to gain the necessary skills / experience in order to achieve their objectives. You can also identify how best to align and develop individuals to help achieve company goals and priorities. By taking the time to have these conversations, you can help individuals to feel valued and supported as well as empowering them to define and achieve their personal career goals. 

 

2. Delegate to develop skills and experience  

Developing your team is an important part of your job and by delegating tasks and coaching for development, leaders / managers can allow individuals to learn new processes, master techniques and improve their skills. This is turn creates a more able and confident workforce, providing opportunities from within for succession. 

Identify suitable tasks to delegate with SMART objectives and clear expectations. Provide the necessary resources and support, encourage decision making within agreed boundaries and agree milestones when you’ll check in to discuss progress. 

 

3. Give regular feedback to improve performance  

Giving feedback allows us to recognise what individuals are doing well, discuss areas where performance needs to be improved and identify actions that will help them to achieve their objectives. By setting clear goals and delivering regular feedback, team members will be more aware of how they are progressing, will be able to adjust their approach if necessary and access additional help and support as needed. Regular performance feedback also contributes to an individual's overall motivation, commitment and engagement in the workplace. 

 

Feedback stats

 

Effective feedback to help employees to learn, develop and improve performance should be part of an ongoing performance review cycle rather than something that is reserved for an annual appraisal. Prepare for the conversation, and ensure that feedback is specific, timely and useful. 

Positive feedback and recognition can be a particular powerful motivator and as John Oliver OBE explained in our recent blog on the ‘Power of Recognition’ 

“It is not complicated - just getting around to using two of the most neglected words in the leadership lexicon, “thank you”, can have a dramatic impact on how people feel. 

 

4. Share the vision 

The purpose of setting clear goals and expectations is to help employees to improve and achieve agreed objectives. When employees can see how their individual goals fit into the big picture – how they are contributing to the overall company mission, vision, purpose – they are even more effective.  

When you know what your team’s aspirations and goals for the future are, you can also help them to see how they can fit into the greater organisational picture and how they are contributing to that bigger picture. This in turn can also increase their motivation to expand their responsibilities and seek out opportunities to progress within the company. 

 

5. Encourage a culture of learning 

It is said that within ten years, 50% of jobs will require new skills, human skills to bridge technology and whilst traditionally, skills development has focused on content, learning to learn and practising new skills are as important now if we are to create a sustainable competitive advantage for our businesses now and for their next generation of leaders. 

We need, therefore, to encourage curiosity and an open mindset in our employees, nurture critical thinking and decision making, and reward continuous learning. In turn, as leaders, we should be leading by example and seeking out opportunities to learn and develop ourselves. 

 

If you are interested in finding out more about how we help our delegates to improve their leadership skills in order to develop themselves, their teams and their organisations, please get in touch with Jo Draper or Stewart Barnes.

Our next effective leadership program for senior leaders (LEAD™) starts in November, and our next management development program for future leaders (LEADlight) will start in January 2022.

 

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