When people are looking for a new role, either for the first time out of college or throughout their careers, many consider employee development and career opportunities high within their decision set. They ask:
- How will I be trained?
- Will they offer continuous development?
- What are the career tracks available within the organization?
- Will my leadership team support me?
This certainly was true for me. Someone recommended ADP during my career search, highlighting the company’s great training programs and commitment to fostering employee development.
After heeding their recommendation, as I write this article, I am about to mark my 26th year at ADP
I’ve held multiple roles during my tenure, working for different areas of the business and across various functions, with half my career based in an office and the other half working from home most of the time. The common thread when it comes to growth and development has been support and guidance from my leaders.
The development dynamic
People leaders play a key role in employee development. As a leader, you are the coach, the partner, the ‘co-pilot,’ as we like to say. You aren’t the one dribbling the ball or driving the car, but you are an active member of the process.
You watch, observe, take note, and help connect the dots. For leaders who do this well, it creates a domino effect ultimately impacting your customers and their experience with your organization through the strength and passion of your employees.
As an employee, it’s up to you to rise to the challenge. It is your job to train, do the work, roll your sleeves up and learn to embrace the unfamiliar. Be open and honest with where you excel, what you enjoy doing and what you just flat out don’t like.
Keep track of your own progress. Reflect often on your own growth. Most importantly, know your leader is there to help guide you.
Not everyone knows what they want to be when they ‘grow up’, or what their next move might be. Not to sound cliché but this thing called ‘career’ is definitely a journey, not a destination. The development process reminds me a lot of cooking a recipe.
At first, you start with the full instructions and do it exactly the way the chef created it: measurements, timing and process.
Over time, and with repetition, you can start to explore and add new ingredients, reduce some others and perhaps challenge the entire recipe with a goal to improve the texture, flavor, or consistency of whatever it is that you are making.
The goal is to gain experience in your day to day while growing and learning.
Navigating remote development
Many leaders have a unique challenge and one they may not have faced before: leading in a remote work environment, with employees working from their homes without the ability to walk around and chat with their team and be together in person.
Some have transitioned easily to this way of working and others have (and continue) to struggle
And when it comes to career development, this environment for many leaders who thrive on in-person connections and ‘seeing’ the work in action may have stunted critical development conversations with employees.
The good news is remote working has been around for decades, even if some companies and leaders didn’t heavily subscribe to it prior to the pandemic.
Many organizations have successfully thrived in a remote or hybrid work environment and leaders from around the globe know how to support and empower their employees, whether across a shared office or across state or country lines in different time zones.
While being in person allows for that unplanned hallway conversation and is often easier and takes less effort, the core concepts of supporting your team are the same as when you are sitting in two different locations.
It simply requires a shift in approach to being more purposeful and present when you are interacting with your team members remotely.
We have all successfully adopted the use of video, and while video fatigue is something that many might feel, there is no question that video is one of the next best things to in-person conversations. It can be a lifeline to really engaging with work colleagues.
As many continue to navigate a remote or hybrid work environment, here are a few simple ways leaders can foster employee development and empower their teams to take ownership of their individual career journeys:
- Talk: Engage in conversations around career. Weave it into everyday conversations or weekly check-ins with your employees. The more often you can bring it up in dialogue, the less intimidating the conversation may feel when you aren’t physically face-to-face.
- Listen: Pay attention to the key words and phrases you are hearing from your employees. Perhaps they seem interested in a new area of the business, or they are struggling with certain parts of their role and could use some additional learning or support. Whether remote or in person, with the ‘listen’ comes ‘watch’. Be aware of their body language, facial expressions and overall mannerisms when they talk about certain aspects of their role, development or career. Sometimes it is not what they say, it is how they say it where you can catch opportunities to provide support.
- Act: Offer your observations and provide recommendations. Point them to learning courses, either internal or external, that may help round out their skills. Look for stretch assignments, something outside of their everyday tasks or projects, to help them grow professionally, and give them exposure and new learning opportunities.
- Connect: Provide opportunities for them to connect with others in your organization. Be purposeful in fostering those connections. A leader in another part of the business may offer new insights. An employee doing a completely different role may spark new ideas for them in their current role. The intent of connections isn’t only to find a mentor, but sometimes that just happens naturally!
The events of the past year and a half have helped to prove that remote work works, and we’re seeing many companies embrace a hybrid work model as they continue to navigate forward and redefine the work environment. Though, no matter the location or mode of working, to attract and retain top talent leaders need to continue to support employee development and growth.