Employee Growth and Development is Not Just about Training

Sometimes you hear an organization boast about how it fosters employee growth and development, “after all, we provide many training opportunities for our staff.” But is staff growth really about training? Let me suggest that it is much more about encouraging employees to take on new tasks, have autonomy, and succeed at the work before them.

You see, training is a about gaining new knowledge or skill. This is important and useful. But acquiring new learning requires application. People have to use this information on new tasks that are engaging and matter to the organization. Without an opportunity for application, the new learning is useless, or worse, a sham.

Employers that want their employees to grow try to give them tasks that are manageable steps toward the completion of a major goal. People want and need to succeed. This is what Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer focus on in The Progress Principle. “Even when progress happens in small steps, a person’s sense of steady forward movement toward an important goal can make all the difference between a great day and a terrible one.”

Employee growth and development is about helping people achieve mastery. People want to feel like they are mastering something that is challenging and valuable. It leads to confidence, satisfaction, and a desire to do more. So when training applies to the task of the employee there is excitement and drive about its application.

Any parent knows this experience firsthand. Toddlers especially, but certainly all kids, want to solve problems. The phrases are “me do it,” or “I want to figure it out.” As a parent you realize that you have to take the time to let the child succeed (even if it takes much longer than just doing it yourself). The kids are elated when they succeed and usually want to do the task over and over. “Look, I did it,” is the proud end result. Our response is “yes, you can do it and you are competent.”

Our employees want the same thing. Give them something worthwhile to accomplish, then support them in feeling successful and competent. That’s growth and development.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

www.DeMaioPsychology.com

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