“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” — Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company
These wise words by Henry Ford have never been more true than in today’s corporate world where attracting and retaining top-level talent is a constant struggle. But how can you go about transforming training and development processes into valuable experiences for your employees and ultimate success for your business?
Start by understanding that as you develop your staff, growth occurs on two levels: first on an emotional, or heart, level through a shift in core beliefs and values priorities and, secondly, on a practical level through actions and targeted results. It is unrealistic to just tell people they need to change and expect them to do it. People can’t be forced into personal development. They have the power of choice and will exercise that power.
Developing your human capital must come through intentional encouragement of four important aspects of your business practice. Building a culture that supports learning and development requires concrete experiences that support and preserve the desired behaviors and ultimate productivity. So how do you provide experiences that make learning “sticky?” And how can you improve simple training to produce actual transformation? The following four practices will help:
- Mentoring—The Power of Relational Learning: Mentoring does not need to be a complicated process or program. In fact, within certain parameters and given good preparation, it is one of the most basic, organic forms of learning available. Mentoring can be a great way to connect, encourage, and motivate your workforce, supporting practical learning through proactive relationships. Instead of learning something once, mentoring relationships support the long-term application of learning through accountability and encouragement. It is a powerful way to move people forward, while using the resources you already have.
- Leadership Development– It May Not Be What You Think: Traditionally the focus of leadership development has been on identifying talent and putting those future leaders on a fast track of training, exposure, and encouragement to step into leadership roles. But the problem is, while these highly talented individuals produce great work product, they can be some of your most volatile employees, targeted by head hunters and often holding the self-important tendencies that make them vulnerable to the highest bidder.
What if, instead, that middle 80% of your organization realized that what they do on a day-to-day basis truly matters. Because these employees are typically more loyal and stable, you will see widespread improvements on productivity with people who will stick around to see how their efforts play out in the mission of your company. The effects can be significant if your company raises engagement levels by just a few percentage points. Momentum is built. Your company values and mission are furthered. And your customers will see it in every interaction they have with your company, because everyone is on board.
- The Diversity Connection–It’s Not About Tolerance: How often have you been asked to tolerate another person’s differences, to put up with them in favor of work harmony? This has been a common theme, played out with drudgery and even resentment at times… tolerance spurred by a necessity for legislative compliance more than genuine respect for people who are different. This insinuates that other people’s differences are offensive, and we should be tolerant instead of reacting to them. But the act of tolerance creates negative barriers between employees. If we can, instead, adopt a learning approach, practiced by respecting and including people who are different from us, we can change tolerance into belonging. Studies have shown that cultures that promote inclusion and belonging are the most productive. Inclusive cultures help individuals thrive, and create momentum for skill development as each person is inspired by their unique role in the mission of the organization.
- Your Brand–It’s the Bottom Line: When employees connect with your brand’s promise, you are who you say you are, inside and out. This powerful congruence encourages consistent behavior. Everyone in your company champions your values and your brand. Champions – or ‘true believers’ – see the future of your brand and how it will make a difference in the market. When every employee relates to your specific brand promise, momentum is built by consistency of attitudes throughout the company.
By following these four guidelines, you will be able to develop your human capital so that it sticks for the long-term, allowing you to reap the rewards of a powerful, people-centric culture.