Most companies want their employees to continue to grow and develop because they know employee growth benefits not only the individual but also the organization. For example, how would productivity change if an employee became a more effective communicator or learned to manage others using a coach approach?
To foster employee growth and development, organizations often enroll people in training or provide them with a coach. What they don’t do enough of, however, is encourage the managers of these employees to support that growth and development.
This type of manager involvement is often referred to as stakeholder engagement. Simply put, the leader is paying attention to their employees’ development. Stakeholder engagement does not have to be time consuming or difficult. And it’s been documented that when managers are involved, it’s much more likely that an employee’s training and coaching will meet or exceed desired outcomes.
Why stakeholder engagement?
Stakeholders are in a great position to provide helpful feedback to their employees. The employee can use this valuable data to determine their development goals and how those goals relate to the organization’s needs. Additionally, stakeholders can:
- Encourage the employee to share their learning objectives to make sure the two parties agree on the work the employee should focus on. Then together, they can align the employee’s development goals with organizational objectives to increase the impact of the learning. This not only maximizes the employee’s effectiveness but can also increase their overall contribution.
- Provide insight and suggestions for improvement and behavioral change to the employee and help them understand the manager’s vision for their role.
- Emphasize the organization’s level of commitment regarding the employee’s development.
- Recognize whether or not the employee is invested in their own development.
- Encourage the employee to invest more effort in pursuing learning opportunities.
- Hold both themselves and the employee accountable for the employee’s development goals.
Manager involvement before training or coaching
When stakeholders get involved early, they can help direct the course of an employee’s learning—it can be as simple as the leader recognizing and acknowledging the developmental work the employee is taking on. More often, however, it involves the manager facilitating a conversation with the employee before training or coaching begins. During this conversation, manager and employee can discuss:
- The organization’s key goals, objectives, vision, and values
- The employee’s key initiatives and how their role fits into the overall strategy of the organization—linking the employee’s development to the organization’s purpose and desired outcomes
- The way employee performance is evaluated and how it ties into business metrics
- The stakeholder’s thoughts on the employee’s goals with the goal of agreement on skills the employee needs to achieve specific results. They can then work together to consider how the employee’s actions impact the employee, the manager, and the organization.
- Potential gaps the training or coaching might be able to close that will enable the employee to improve and maximize the value they bring to the organization.
- The employee’s Individual Development Plan (IDP), if they have one—or, if not, manager and employee may discuss how to create one. It’s always a good idea to have a written plan defining employee development objectives. At the end of the conversation, the IDP serves as a contract between employee and manager that outlines what they will do together on further development.
Manager involvement after training or coaching
At the end of training or coaching, stakeholder and employee can review:
- Key concepts from the training and how to use them to be more effective going forward. Help make the concepts come alive by linking the learnings to the employee’s strategic and organizational objectives.
- The employee’s IDP and how the learnings might align with, enhance, or change their development plans. Discuss specific actions the employee is going to take, including timeframes and deadlines.
- Having ongoing conversations about the employee’s IDP and their new learnings. There is so much value in having regular development discussions; don’t let this be “one and done.”
These conversations are extremely important. They not only engage the manager with the development process but also begin to assign some ownership to the manager for the eventual level of development achieved by the employee.
Employee development is everyone’s responsibility
The reality is that an employee’s growth and development is the responsibility of the whole organization. Stakeholders getting involved can provide a big return on investment without being time consuming. Many stakeholders are motivated by their own participation because they feel they are contributing not only to their employee’s development, but also to their own success. When this happens, it’s a win for all!
Are you a stakeholder who could increase your involvement in your employees’ development? Or perhaps you are an employee who could benefit from more attention from your manager regarding your development? I hope this post has given you some ideas for getting started!
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.