Attracting great talent is hard, but keeping great talent on your team can pose an even bigger challenge. We all know that the employee/employer contract has been radically altered from what it was 50 years ago. It is now highly unlikely that anyone will spend her entire career with the same employer. However, it is still incumbent upon management to develop talent. Why? The simple answer is because your employees are your profit makers. Without them, you would not be able to run your business, meet the needs of your customers, develop new products, or reach new markets.
Good managers help to build an employees arsenal of experiential portability. That is, they provide their employees with opportunities to gain new knowledge by managing different projects, working with different groups of people, or by availing themselves of traditional training methodologies. All of these develop the employees soft skills and functional expertise. This knowledge is the experiential portability which can be applied either within the organization or outside of it.
While the ultimate responsibility for long-term development is that of the individual, the employer should step up and invest in employees for the simple reason that it keeps employees engaged.
Your market is not static, nor should your employees skills be
Specific benefits that can be reaped:
- It builds a culture of creativity and innovation. Do you want a team made up of smart, critical thinkers, or do you want a bunch of drones who just complete the tasks they are assigned?
- Continuous education helps keep up with constant market changes. Is your market exactly the same as it was five, ten, or even two years ago? Just ten years ago, there was no iPhone! How can you expect your people to have the skills necessary to maximize results in a changing market if you are not invested in their learning? Your market is not static, nor should your employees skills be.
- You develop leaders. By investing in your employees, you will have a pool of internal candidates, who already know your products and customers, when you need to fill leadership roles.
- It builds your brand. You want to be the employer of choice, and investing in your employees makes your company a place where top employees want to work. It positions you as a forward-thinking company, which your customers and clients will appreciate as well.
- It is more cost-effective than NOT developing your people. When people don’t feel that they are valued, they leave. The cost of recruiting and on-boarding a new hire can be upwards of 200% of the annual base salary. In addition, if you’re not developing your employees, you’re lagging behind on current and emerging trends in your market.
- It forces you to look to the future. You have to develop your people within the context of what your future needs will be, where your market is moving, what are the emerging challenges facing your customers. If you are actively working to develop employees, you are unable to be still and static.
Do you want a bunch of drones who just complete the tasks they are assigned?
The Bottom Line
Savvy managers who understand the benefits of continuous education and development are better positioned to adapt to quickly changing market needs. Managers who regard employee development as an expendable cost are dangerously myopic. They are the ones from whom good talent will flee. Your employees want to know that you are invested in their careers, for however long your mutually beneficial relationship lasts.