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Employee Training Development

Employee Training Development: Creating Opportunities

“Employee Training Development” is the fifth article in our series on performance management. It’s about a critical factor in workplace motivation: creating opportunities.

Organizations can have the most comprehensive performance development plan in place, but if this doesn’t address the need for opportunities, it may count for very little.

Below are some ideas to get you thinking about the importance of providing development opportunities in the workplace.

This article is part of our series on How to Motivate Employees to PERFORM. Knowing how to motivate employees is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job. As important though, is the need to manage the factors that contribute to that motivation, and to create the conditions for people to perform and realise their potential. Our tool to help you achieve these management skills is the Apex PERFORM model. It stands for:

  • P – Potential
  • E – Expertise
  • R – Results
  • F – Focus
  • OOpportunities
  • R – Resources
  • M – Motivation

Opportunity Awareness

In planning for employee training development, managers should never lose sight of the importance of opportunity. Any effective plan would consider opportunities from several perspectives.

Firstly, in expecting people to improve their performance in their current role, are you giving them the opportunity to do so? Are the improvement targets realistic? Are they SMART and SHARP? Will you support them appropriately with physical and personal resources, and adequate employee training development? Are you giving them the opportunity to work to their strengths?

The second perspective on opportunity directly relates to this last point. Has your performance management plan considered where your people are best employed? Has it assessed the strengths in your people, either currently used or potential? Is your employee training development no more than simply asking for more of the same from your people? Or does it offer them opportunities to develop beyond their current work? Considering this perspective is a critical factor in motivating people at work. Do you use performance reviews to genuinely look for development potential in your people? Do you then consider what opportunities might exist, to help your people and your organizations to benefit from that potential? Do you take action to develop that potential via existing opportunities, or by trying to create them?

A third perspective relates to what your people think. Perhaps what they think of opportunities in your organization. Possibly what they think of their own developement needs or their own capabilities, and the need for opportunities to address these. How does their self-perception compare with your own judgement of their abilities or performance. Good managers will always be on the look-out for potential in their people, even if the people themselves can’t yet see it. Don’t overlook the input or insights offered by experienced colleagues. These may be better placed than you to see under-developed potential in their workmates. It’s then up to you to consider what opportunities exist, or can be created, to benefit from this information.

For example, opportunities can come in many guises, but one of the most powerful employee motivators is to give people responsibility, to trust them. Of course, the manager’s judgement is needed to assess whether someone is ready for that responsibility. Some employee training development may be needed first, as part of the support and resources offered to the employee.

Preparation is a good way to think about improving performance. It suggests a need to develop capability so that an employee is ready to take on the next challenge. Effective employee training is not just about creating opportunities. It’s also about encouraging your people to be prepared, so they are both looking for opportunities themselves, and are ready to take them. This idea was captured succinctly by Seneca, the Roman philosopher. He suggested that:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Opportunities

What kind of opportunities are more likely to encourage employee motivation? Two simple ideas have emerged from much of the research on motivation. These suggest that we can best motivate others by:

  • Giving them interesting and challenging jobs to do.
  • Ensuring their value and achievements are fully, fairly and explicitly recognized.

If you want your employee training development to be fully effective, provide your people with opportunities to:

  • Achieve;
  • Take on more challenging and interesting work;
  • Assume greater responsibility;
  • Advance their careers;
  • Grow in expertise and confidence.

Opportunities create possibilities to learn and to explore. As Mark Twain put it:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Opportunity Cost

Of course there may be some cost to providing opportunities in the workplace. In reality, some of the best opportunities for employee training development can be low-cost. When properly managed, delegating responsibility, offering more challenging activities, and encouraging personal growth, can bring benefits which are well worth the cost.

Most costs are far outweighed by the word potential. The potential to be developed in your people, the potential for benefit this will bring to your organization, plus the potential for opportunity cost, if these growth possibilities are not encouraged. It’s always important to consider the cost of lost opportunities.

Compare the costs an organization incurs in developing people, compared to the overall cost of denying them opportunites for growth. Think of the cost to an organization when employees are unhappy. Surely it’s far better to invest in positive, employee training development, than corrective management, dealing with poor performance or attitude. Perhaps caused where people feel frustrated, that their expertise is under used, or that they’re not realizing their potential. Or worse, if they feel their growth is being deliberately, or unfairly restrained. Surely one of the greatest lost opportunities is in a person whose potential is never fulfilled?

One final word on “opportunity”. Although the word itself has positive connotations, suggesting optimism, it’s not always seen as something worthwhile, even by those who could benefit. Sometimes it can be ignored, sometimes even shunned completely. Some people think opportunity can often involve a personal cost (however that is defined). Don’t allow this to stop you providing growth opportunities for your people. Instead, try brushing up on motivation and change management techniques! Or perhaps you can just refer to Thomas Edison’s words when he observed that:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

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