In the atrium of the new building.  Very nice facility!

Prague University of Economics. Very nice facility!

Had a great program in Prague…photo attached. Spent a lot of time talking about employee development, among other things.  My feelings on this are not all that positive, I am sorry to say.  This is an absolute shame.

In my opinion, and in my observation, the problem is not in the systems, it is in the application.

Most organizations I have worked with have very good systems of performance appraisal, succession planning, and employee development.  However, they are not well used.  This is a leadership issue.

You have to make it a priority.  Performance feedback and development is critically important for achieving goals and objectives.  It makes your employees, and therefore, your organization, stronger.  It is one of the most powerful and effective motivators you have at your disposal

…if used correctly and done well.

Therein lies the problem.  Those systems and processes are generally NOT used well.  They are generally very well designed, but the application is weak, at best.  Performance appraisals are not completed…they are not done objectively and fairly…there is inadequate follow-through.  They become a de-motivator.

At one time I was in an organization that had never done performance appraisals.  People had been working there for years and never gotten any feedback on how they were doing.  That is unimaginable to me. 

I made a mandate to our leadership team that they would all write performance appraisals of each of their direct reports, and then sit and review every one of them with me and the new head of Human Resources.  We would critique them, help them clean them up, and use that process as a way of improving the feedback they were giving employees. 

They would then discuss those appraisals with their employees in the presence of the HR director, so he could coach them on how to deliver feedback (and to make sure it was getting done!).  This was a start.  Then the process was to trickle down to all levels.

Sometimes you have to get that much into the detail to be sure that things are getting done the way you want.

An equally big issue is that the employee development part of that process rarely happens.  I have never seen an organization that does a good job of developing their employees.  That is an enormous failure on the part of all levels.

Employee development and career opportunity is the best motivational tool you have at your disposal.  Here are some of the problems I see with it.

  • Supervisors do not see it as a priority so they “do not have the time” for it.
  • Supervisors worry that if they develop their employees they will move on to other jobs (better jobs)…and they will then have to replace them (which of course requires re-justifying the position and that worries them).  This is a serious losing attitude.
  • Supervisors do not know how to develop employees.  Well, I guess you can say that…but, I really feel that they are not trying.  It is not that difficult.
  • Supervisors feel that they do not have the money in the budget to do it.  Well, it can be free if you put some effort into thinking about it.  Job swaps; temporary assignments when someone is on vacation or leave; special project assignments.
  • Employees do not recognize that job swaps, temporary assignments, and special project assignments are some of the best development opportunities out there.  The research shows that in-job development is the most powerful in developing true skills.

As a leader you should recognize that this is a big missed opportunity, and an easy one to correct.

Employee development makes your organization stronger in terms of better skills…

Employee development increases organization stability in terms of internal promotion and employee satisfaction, motivation and commitment…

Employee development reduces your overall operating costs in terms of better performance as well as not having to replace employees who leave the company for a better opportunity.

The benefits far outweigh the costs!  Problem is you have to require it.  You have to be a part of the process.  Make it a priority…track it and measure it…assess the performance of your direct reports in terms of how well they are doing it.