“The foundation of a great company is the way it develops people—providing the right experiences, learning from other people, giving candid feedback and providing coaching, education and training. If you spend the same amount of time and energy developing people as you do on budgeting, strategic planning and financial monitoring, the payoff will come in sustainable competitive advantage.” —Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, 2002
As Bossidy and Charan state, the foundation of a great company is how it develops people. It only makes sense to develop and grow the most enduring asset that an organization possesses. If people and their skills are allowed to atrophy and decline, then the organization will soon follow. This is why it is folly to cut developmental resources drastically in tough times because the skills and persistence needed to overcome adversity often result from developmental and deployment programs.
Strong developmental programs send the right message to the employees of the company. These programs contribute to morale, engagement and productivity. We also know that if employees do not have an opportunity to further develop their skills and experiences they will become a flight risk
The new employee compact with organizations is around the concept of “employability.” If an organization commits to developing and enriching an employee’s skills and experiences, then the employee will, in turn, commit to the organization. The best security any person has is to continue to strengthen his or her skill sets for their next career step—either with the current organization or another. If companies deliver on the development promise, there is less reason for an employee to leave or seek another opportunity.
Compared to the cost of losing talented people, employee development programs are a bargain. They are a very cost effective investment for the organization to make when compared to the cost of being stuck in the middle between the time and the money to find a replacement.
The challenge, however, is to work with both managers and employees to view development as primarily work-based, and not a separate program, event or trip to a nice place.