When a manager and employee sit down to create goals, the conversation typically centers around what the employee will do for the organization:
What is expected of the employee over a certain stretch of time, and how will their productivity impact other team members? What steps can the employee take to contribute to the organization’s success?
These questions focus on employee performance, but managers should also be discussing professional development goals. Development conversations should center around what the organization can do to support employees and their future aspirations.
Professional development goals are vitally important to both the success and engagement of the employee. If employee skills and knowledge remain stagnant, they may not grow or be motivated to push themselves. Creating employee development plans encourages employees to expand their horizons and improve, enhancing their skillsets and the entire team in the process.
Here are five major benefits provided by professional development goals:
1. They give employees a voice.
Rather than simply tell an employee what they should improve on, managers should listen and understand how an employee would like to grow. Professional development goals open the lines of communication and give employees a platform to explain their vision for the future. They might be interested in developing additional skills, learning how their work affects other departments, or adopting new technology that could help their performance. These learning experiences benefit both the individual and the organization and are critical to having effective career conversations.
2. They help build previously undiscovered muscles.
If an athlete performs the same workout every day, they’re not going to improve. They will maintain their current level of fitness, but they won’t get faster or stronger. The same is true with any skill. Our minds need to be stretched in different directions to continue growing in new and different ways. The more tactics and opinions an employee is exposed to, the more ideas they can generate to increase productivity and update stale processes. Create an employee development plan to open employees to ideas they hadn’t previously considered.
3. They help teams stay up-to-date on industry changes.
The state of business is constantly evolving as new techniques, practices, and technology are introduced. Employees should be empowered to keep up with the latest trends. Encourage them to embrace new technology, expand their education, and increase emotional intelligence to keep your business moving at lightning speed.
4. They increase employee buy-in and engagement.
Employees want to know they’re valued as people, not just for what they do at work. When managers go out of their way to ask employees about their developmental aspirations, it shows they are recognizing the employee as an individual. This gives employees a sense of great value, increases engagement, and pushes them to grow and work more efficiently. Managers should be very intentional in recognizing individual employee skills and suggesting specific areas of growth based on the employee’s interests. They must also be open and willing to listen as the employee shares areas in which they would like to improve.
5. They help employees move beyond work goals.
Managers should know who their employees want to be, not just the job they want. Managers should be comfortable discussing development outside of just organizational and team constructs. Growth should be defined in terms of the employee as a human, not just a worker – this allows the manager to tap into their motivations and discover what drives them. Maybe they’re passionate about personal finance, disciplined when it comes to health and fitness, or generous when it comes to lending their talents. By framing development conversations in terms outside of just compensation or job status, managers can help their employees grow as people and set them up for future success.
It's easy to see why it's important to work with employees to set developmental goals. To get started and see best practices, download our free ebook, Employee Development.