How would your team respond to that question?

It is an important one to consider if you are concerned about engagement and turnover. It’s even more important if a corporate goal is to value people.

Employees who don’t have opportunities to grow and advance in their career (or are not aware of them if they exist) are some of the most likely to move on. In fact, Gallup studies consistently find the lack of advancement opportunities is a top driver for voluntary turnover.

Opportunities for development matter to all employees of all ages and stages of their career, but it is especially a focus for millennials. Gallup also found 87% of millennials say development is important in their job and career.

We need to look at learning and development in two buckets – what learning opportunities there are to learn in today’s role, and what opportunities exist to prepare the team for tomorrow’s opportunities. As leaders when we think about development we tend to focus on the technical skills they need in both roles – today’s and tomorrow’s. But we should also think about the needs of the company for future leadership and consider management and leadership skills training.

One of the most common limiting factors we see in companies are managers who are technically proficient in the group they manage. They often can do the real work to be done better than the employees they lead, many times that is why they were promoted. But they have limited management skills, and they get little in the way of management training. They are strong at the skills they need except for the one most important for any manager at any level – leading, developing and managing people!

Larger organizations normally have learning and development specialists, they can afford to offer tuition reimbursement and bring in consultants to coach and train people, etc. But smaller organizations often have much less sophistication around their training options. They have to take a grassroots approach.

Here are some ideas:

Make sure people understand the growth opportunities that do exist. Often there are development options that people just don’t know about. Like so many messaging issues, we must over-communicate about what is available.

Train managers on how to coach employees through a development plan to help them grow and prepare. A development plan should include asking questions like:

  • What skills are they missing to be more effective in today’s role?
  • Do they have an attitude and mindset that leads me to believe they can take on a bigger role and be a high performer?
  • What are the real successes they have had here? (great attitudes and likeability don’t always translate into results)
  • Where would they like to go in their career? Does it match the company’s needs?
  • Have they demonstrated some commitment to personal development by taking some responsibility for their growth?
  • What gaps exist between where they are and where they would like to be (and where we want them to be)? What is the next thing that needs to be done to start to bridge that gap?

Find opportunities to help them grow. Rotate them into new roles and new departments to help them develop. Create special assignments, maybe taking a few hours a week away from their regular duties, to perform new tasks in an area of strength.

Put extra thought around development plans for high performers. They represent the leaders and future leaders you need (and that you need to keep!). Get them involved with mentors from above them in the organization. Involve them with industry groups or associations. Challenge them. Use them in training roles to help them grow their skills in developing people.

Remind employees that share the responsibility for their own development. Like employee engagement, both the company and the employee have a part to play. Employees may look at development as a responsibility only of the company. If that what they believe, their mindset has to change. Give them some ideas, or even better have employees who have grown with the company share some ideas around what they did to get themselves ready for their next job.

The ideas you can give them are endless. They include things like:

  • Sign up for training opportunities within the company
  • Look for community-based training options that may be free or inexpensive
  • Work on appropriate certifications in areas of interest
  • Invite a fellow employee who has a role they aspire to for coffee or lunch to learn
  • Pursue a degree or advanced degree
  • Read a book relevant to their career goals
  • Write their own personal development plan and execute it
  • Use any extra time they have at work to cross train or learn a new skill

Our organizations will only grow and thrive based on how well the people who run it grown and thrive. As the boomer’s age and exit the workforce, developing people is taking on a new urgency. What can you do to develop someone on your team this month?

Jimmy Taylor

Ask The Right Question…

Employee Engagement Edition- a tool to help you hire, engage, and retain great talent.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 80% of CEO’s in North America are concerned about their company’s ability to hire and retain the talent they need. The retirement of the baby boomers, combined with high turnover and low employee engagement, is a challenge. However, companies who connect with their employees better are seeing tremendous results.

These cards are a tool to help business leaders thinking about how to create amazing employee engagement where employees:

  • Love their job
  • Do their best every day
  • Stay with your company longer

Each week ask yourself and your team the question of the week. Every week we will mail you a blog with thoughts and resources to help you dig deeper around that question.

For more information contact us at

To order the card deck or for more tools to help you grow your team and your business check out