How Well Do You Develop Your People?

How Well Do You Develop Your People?

Training and development is key to an effective team.

© iStockphoto/DaveBolton

When you manage a team, how well it performs often depends on how well you've trained and developed your people.

Individuals need ongoing training and development to help them become more effective, and take on bigger and more significant challenges. More than this, they need help learning new skills as the nature of their work – and of your organization – changes.

Too often, companies limit training and development to new hires and to people moving into new roles. This is a mistake, because ongoing training helps people adjust to changing job requirements. It also creates a pool of qualified and available people, who are ready to step into new roles as your organization needs them. This process helps you develop a more effective, efficient, productive, and motivated workforce. Done properly, this will ensure that you achieve your objectives and improve your competitive position.

How Well Do You Develop Your People?

Instructions:

For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

   16 Statements to Answer

Not
at All
Rarely Some
times
Often Very
Often
1 We carry out exit interviews when people leave the organization.
2 I actively seek learning opportunities for my team in everyday situations.
3 I use the same motivational methods for all of my team members.
4 I promote people to reward good performance.
5 When people come to me with a problem, I ask questions to better understand the issue.
6 I change my communication style to fit the situation, as well as to meet the needs of the person with whom I'm communicating.
7 I track leadership potential among my staff members.
8 I coach my people by telling them what they should and shouldn't do to advance their careers in the organization.
9 Our training program for new staff focuses only on logistics and on helping people become oriented to their new roles.
10 I track and manage my team's competencies related to personal and organizational needs.
11 I encourage mentoring within my team and in my organization.
12 I help team members develop career plans, and map out their career progression within our organization.
13 I have a succession plan for key positions on my team.
14 I work with my people to develop their leadership skills and talents.
15 I know which skills each member of my team needs to develop.
16 When people attend courses or other training events, they're required to share their knowledge with the rest of the team.
Calculate My Total
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment
16-36 You may be trying to focus on people development, but other activities have a higher priority. Try to set aside time, on a regular basis, to meet the development needs of your team. You, your team, and your organization will all benefit – by boosting productivity and helping people feel happier in their jobs. (Read below to start.)
37-58 You're doing many of the right things to develop and train your people. Take it to the next level by making staff development a priority. Think about creative ways of sharing knowledge and inspiring your people to improve their skills on a daily basis. The more you show that you're committed to their long-term success, the more motivated, satisfied, and productive they'll be. And that will make your job much easier. (Read below to start.)
59-80 Well done! You clearly understand that your people are the future of the organization. Keep the momentum going by continuing to be a role model for others, and by showing that staff development and training produces results. (Read below to start.)

This quiz highlights five main factors related to developing people. These are:

  • Understanding the needs of your organization and team.
  • Leadership development.
  • Training and career development.
  • Managing knowledge.
  • Coaching and mentoring your people.

Look at these categories in detail below, and review your answers to identify the areas where you are strong, and the areas where you could improve.

By analyzing your current performance and learning more about each area, you can ensure that you develop your people effectively.

Understanding Organizational and Team Needs

(Questions 3, 6, 10, 15)

Before developing your team, you must first identify the best development opportunities for your people and your organization.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings with staff to discuss and understand people's developmental needs  . In these meetings, explore their current performance, and identify areas for improvement. From there, create a development plan to fill any skill gaps and prepare the team member to meet the challenges ahead. This is where it helps to have a competency framework   for each person's role, and it's where it's worth conducting a training needs assessment   to identify the training and development that each person needs.

Throughout this process, different people will want or need different things in relation to work and training. For example, some people respond well to increased responsibility, while others may prefer to develop a wide variety of skills. McClelland's Human Motivation Theory   tells us that we all have a dominant motivator, and these motivators influence things such as what type of development we want, what types of goals will cause us to respond positively, and what types of rewards we want. As a manager, you should understand these different patterns of motivation.

You can also use models such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs   and Herzberg's Motivators and Hygiene Factors   to assess individual needs, and provide training and development opportunities accordingly.

Talk to people to find out what training they want and need, and then work with them to develop a personal training and development plan that helps them get this training, economically and efficiently.

Leadership Development

(Questions 4, 7, 14)

Successful teams and organizations typically put a lot of effort into developing future leaders  . If you identify and develop competent managers and supervisors, you'll ensure that you have people trained and ready to fill new leadership positions, rather than being forced to recruit unproven people externally.

These programs rely heavily on choosing the right people to involve. Start tracking leadership potential from the very early stages of a person's employment. Talent management   initiatives will help you focus on and retain the best people. These initiatives will also help you recruit top talent, and create a high performance culture.

Make an effort to identify strong performers early on – this will help you ensure that you reward the best and brightest on your team with appropriate promotion opportunities.

However, be sure to promote people for their potential to succeed in the leadership role: if, instead, you use promotion as a general reward for good performance, this may lead to the Peter Principle   – in other words, you may promote a person beyond his or her skills and competencies.

Tip:

Mind Tools is a great vehicle for providing high quality management and leadership training!

Training and Career Development

(Question 2, 9, 12)

Not everyone wants to be a leader. However, every person can achieve his or her full potential. So, whatever the skill set, expertise, or position, your people should be encouraged to learn   throughout their careers.

Look for ways to train staff on a daily basis through prompt and effective feedback   and offer training courses and programs to help people develop the specific skills they need. Whether you do this in-house or send people to outside training, your team should know that learning is directly connected to successful performance.

Communicate this attitude from the start. During people's induction   to your team, emphasize your commitment to ongoing professional development. Encourage people to come to you with training ideas and career development plans. Make career development a strategic objective. When people can map out career paths within your team and organization, this improves staff retention and increases the likelihood that they'll develop the skills they need for the future – as well as for today.

Tip:

The Bite-Sized Training session Training for Non-Trainers will help you plan specific training interventions.

For effective training delivery, see our article on 4MAT  , which reviews different ways to deliver material, as well as the article on Gagne's Nine Levels of Learning  , which provides a step-by-step framework for creating a great learning experience.

Knowledge Management

(Question 1, 13, 16)

In many organizations, retaining and sharing organizational knowledge is critical to success. Managing knowledge   is another great way to provide development opportunities for your staff as they share ideas and expertise with one another, identify best practices, and look for ways to work more efficiently with one another. Whenever people start talking about work practices, you'll probably find ways to inspire and innovate, which is exciting for individuals as well as useful for the organization.

Create simple ways of sharing ideas, like developing a company wiki or having regular roundtable meetings to discuss issues and find answers.

Another powerful way to retain knowledge within your organization is through Succession Planning  . Identify people who can take over key positions when those positions become open. (Typically, this is used in retirement situations  , where the person holding the position acts as a mentor and transfers his or her knowledge to a trainee.)

There are many other ways for people to pass on their knowledge – including mentoring   others, preparing an orientation-type book or document, or even conducting on-the-job training. People who have been with the company for a long time, or who have held top positions, have a wealth of information that isn't easily acquired, except through experience. So allowing other people to have access to this information and experience can be a fantastic development opportunity.

Similarly, it is often useful to conduct exit interviews   with people who leave the organization. Ask these people for feedback, and then use this feedback to identify training needs, develop people, and improve operations.

Coaching and Mentoring

(Questions 5, 8, 11)

Perhaps the best way to develop people is to support and encourage their training and growth. From informal coaching   to mentoring   staff for long-term development, show your team members that you truly care that they improve their skills and develop a satisfying career. This is highly motivational – and it's almost guaranteed to improve performance.

As a coach   and mentor, remember that your primary role is to help people better understand their positions. It's not your job to tell them what to do or how to do it – it's far better for you to ask questions to help them develop their own solution. Use the GROW model   and provide feedback-based coaching   to improve your coaching sessions, and you'll help your team members develop skills and abilities they'll keep throughout their careers.

The advantage here is that both the coach and the mentor can benefit from the relationship. When you have an opportunity to think about your own experiences and share them with others, you're learning and developing yourself. This willingness to support other people's development sets a great example for future leaders within your organization, and it contributes to a positive culture of training and development.

Key Points

Your commitment to training and developing your people is a major factor in determining the ongoing success of your team and organization.

By making a commitment to developing and training your team, you send a clear message that you care about your people, and that you're willing to support their growth and job satisfaction. This helps you retain good people, and ensures that your organization has the skills it needs in the future.

Work often changes at a fast pace. When your people keep up with change – and succeed – it's good for them as well as your organization.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

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