The dy­nam­ics of ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ment

The most ef­fec­tive learn­ing of­ten comes from ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing dur­ing on-the­job train­ing, coach­ing and men­tor­ing

Mail & Guardian - - Top Employers - Monika Ferdin

The growth of any or­gan­i­sa­tion is un­der­pinned by the in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment of their em­ploy­ees. It may seem that both the or­gan­i­sa­tion and its em­ploy­ees are equally com­mit­ted to such de­vel­op­ment, but of­ten, this is not the case. For most or­gan­i­sa­tions, the true chal­lenge lies in shift­ing the own­er­ship of de­vel­op­ment from an or­gan­i­sa­tional push to an em­ployee pull, be­cause only once you’ve af­fected this shift can you start to cre­ate ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ment dy­nam­ics.

This is the opin­ion of Monika Ferdin, CHEP HR di­rec­tor for Africa, In­dia and the Mid­dle East. She high­lights four steps to be taken by or­gan­i­sa­tions that wish to see their em­ploy­ees take true own­er­ship of their own de­vel­op­ment.

The build­ing blocks of aware­ness

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the com­pany’s learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment strat­egy is cru­cial to set the scene for this own­er­ship shift. De­vel­op­ment is still fre­quently as­so­ci­ated with tra­di­tional class­room-based learn­ing, while other method­olo­gies are con­sid­ered in­fe­rior.

“How­ever, we know that the most ef­fec­tive learn­ing of­ten comes from ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing that takes place dur­ing on-the-job train­ing, coach­ing and men­tor­ing,” says Ferdin. “Un­less the HR team can clearly com­mu­ni­cate the value of these types of ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing meth­ods, the own­er­ship shift that is so cru­cial to de­vel­op­ment will never take place. They need to ef­fec­tively out­line the learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment strat­egy and ap­proach to the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion to en­sure that ev­ery­one is aligned and em­pow­ered.”

As­pire to great­ness

To boost the staff’s ap­petite for de­vel­op­ment a clear, as­pi­ra­tional vi­sion must be crafted for each em­ployee. This is where the role of the line man­ager is cru­cial. Dur­ing each an­nual in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment plan­ning ses­sion, the line man­ager should help the em­ployee to ex­plore her ca­reer pro­gres­sion am­bi­tions and use it as an an­chor for her de­vel­op­ment plan. But, as Ferdin cau­tions, it is vi­tal that the man­ager man­ages em­ployee ex­pec­ta­tions and help them to set re­al­is­tic goals. Ac­cept that not ev­ery­one wants or needs ver­ti­cal ca­reer pro­gres­sion, and al­low the em­ployee to de­fine their re­quired de­vel­op­ment for their cur­rent role, with sub­tle guid­ance from the line man­ager. If this is done cor­rectly, em­ploy­ees will ac­tively start tak­ing own­er­ship of their de­vel­op­ment.

Iden­tify the gap

The next step is for the line man­ager to as­sist the em­ployee in defin­ing the short­falls in their skill set, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and/or be­hav­iours and to help bridge them with the in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment plan. By iden­ti­fy­ing the con­crete steps needed to move the em­ployee closer to their own goals, the man­ager cre­ates a solid foun­da­tion for the de­sired own­er­ship shift. “You start creat­ing a de­sire within the in­di­vid­ual for the needed de­vel­op­ment, be­cause now they have de­fined the end goal them­selves and they un­der­stand what tan­gi­ble steps are re­quired to get there. It is an im­por­tant psy­cho­log­i­cal shift,” states Ferdin. “But don’t rush this step, or sim­ply as­sume that you as the line man­ager know where the em­ployee wants to progress to. Use it to build the em­ployee’s self-aware­ness.”

Tools of the trade

Once a rel­e­vant, clear pro­posal of the de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ven­tions is crafted, it (and the ac­tual learn­ing pro­cesses) should be read­ily avail­able to the em­ployee. This would typ­i­cally in­clude e-learn­ing cour­ses, stan­dard skills de­vel­op­ment class­room train­ing, and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes, all of which are pro­vided and man­aged by HR.

The power of the peo­ple man­ager

Ferdin calls ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ment a sub­tle dance be­tween an em­pow­ered and in­spired em­ployee and a com­mit­ted and re­spon­si­ble line man­ager. “Re­mem­ber that class­room-based learn­ing only makes up roughly 30% of the en­tire de­vel­op­ment tool­box. The other 70% is de­rived from on­the-job ex­pe­ri­ence, which re­mains the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the line man­ager,” says Ferdin. “Be­cause the 30% is so tan­gi­ble, the 70% is of­ten ne­glected, and then we run the risk of a de­vel­op­ment plan be­com­ing a box-tick­ing ex­er­cise, which ul­ti­mately won’t ad­dress the iden­ti­fied gaps in an em­ployee’s de­vel­op­ment. And if these gaps re­main, it re­sults in a frus­trated em­ployee who fails to achieve her own as­pi­ra­tions, and an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is not func­tion­ing op­ti­mally.”

If an or­gan­i­sa­tion doesn’t pay at­ten­tion to the coach­ing skills of its peo­ple lead­ers, then the en­thu­si­asm of the em­ploy­ees to­wards their in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment will quickly dis­si­pate and be­come coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“CHEP has been on the jour­ney of build­ing its line man­agers’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties for some time now. Though we’ve seen a def­i­nite in­crease in aware­ness and over­all coach­ing ca­pa­bil­ity within our or­gan­i­sa­tion, the own­er­ship of de­vel­op­ment is not yet clearly es­tab­lished,” ad­mits Ferdin. “It is a jour­ney, and we will con­tinue to build on our suc­cesses to en­sure that we re­main a high­per­form­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion that truly val­ues learn­ing.”

Left: Line man­agers as­sist em­ploy­ees to find and ad­dress the short­falls in their skill set and be­hav­iour.

Right: Monika Ferdin, CHEP HR di­rec­tor for Africa, In­dia and the Mid­dle East, be­lieves em­ploy­ees must be al­lowed to de­fine their re­quired de­vel­op­ment for their cur­rent role, with sub­tle guid­ance from the line man­ager. Pho­tos: Carl Smoren­burg &

Xavier Ar­nau

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