When people think of organizational assets, often the first thing that comes to mind are tangible assets; money, machinery, vehicles, computers, raw materials, and finished products. But what about the people behind the scenes that actual make the assets work or even repair the assets when they’re broken? Often times, organizations forget about their most important asset; the human asset. Human assets are no different than tangible assets. To manage an asset you first have to acquire it, then maintain it, then—in the case of the human asset –develop it and direct it (Fitz-Ez, J. 2005). Every manager wants an employee who can accomplish any task, but managers can’t just assume the employee will learn it on their own or in “due time.”
An effective way to develop employees for bigger roles and responsibilities is through the use of a career development program. Career development programs are long term investments in employees that motivate, encourage, and inspire professional and personal growth. While career development programs are designed for employees, the organization will see many benefits from a more productive employee (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013). To ensure a career development program is successful it must have six components; Employee learning plan, needs assessment, comprehensive development plan, roadmap to development of a career development program, other factors in the program development, and individual career development plan integrated with the comprehensive development plan.
Technology is advancing and global competition is increasing therefore it is critical that employees continue to learn as well. Both the formal and informal learning ability of employees will increase greatly through the use of an employee learning plan. These types of plans assist organizations and employees with planning and managing their professional development. Successful creation of employee learning plans start with a template. Both the human resources team and the management team will need to collaborate in order to create the template. Employee development plans are created just like any kind of plan; creating goals then developing methods to obtain those goals. In an employee development plan, the front line managers create the goals for their employees. After all, it is the managers who know best what they need from their employees. According to Beausaert, Gijeslareas and Segars (2011) there are three steps in developing a learning plan; the first step of the learning plan template will need to identify employee’s learning goals, abilities, knowledge, skills and attitudes that need to be developed. Secondly, a learning method must be chosen that will be needed to develop employee’s’ abilities. Lastly, it is important to establish support for the employee(s) (managers or mentors), in which the employees can turn to for assistance.
Upon completion of gathering the information for the template, it is time to turn the template into an actual plan. The plan is critical in the success of the employee, and will aid management and mentors in ensuring that employees are following the training laid out for them. The employment development plan needs to have complete buy-in from both the employees and the managers and mentors. Beausaert, Gijeslareas, and Segars (2011) identified four steps that both the employees and managers or mentors must follow to ensure completion of the plan: commit to the plan, follow through with the plan, discuss the progress, and give feedback. One way to show commitment to the plan is for both the employee and managers or mentor to sign the plan. Following through with the plan is as simple as completing the tasks listed in the plan.
Managers must ensure they are following through with the plan by affording employees the time to complete the tasks. When managers and employees come together to discuss the progress of the plan, adjustments can be made to timelines if needed. Lastly, feedback from both parties is a necessity. Employees can provide feedback on the learning material, and managers can recognize employees that are doing a great job along the way.
In order to identify where common problems across departments are occurring, an organization must perform a needs assessment (Brown, 2002). A thorough needs assessment will utilize multiple resources such as interviews, informal discussions and even surveys. The key to identifying common problems is utilizing a mix of managers and employees. A proper needs assessment will help to create the best career development program. According to Brown, (2002) there are four steps in identifying the information for a needs assessment; Gather information on organizational shortfalls, support from management, evaluating the data, and the cost and benefits of training. Gathering the information is critical in order to ensure the organization is focusing on problematic areas and providing the proper training for employees. Management must remain convinced that the training will benefit their employees. Through data analysis, which will include sales reports, customer surveys, and past employee evaluations, an appropriate training plan can be developed. Lastly, obviously implementing any type of training will impact the company budget. Therefore, evidence will need to be provided to support the benefit of the training.
An employee learning plan is used to discover employee’s areas that need improvement, highlights what their strengths are, and provides information on what the employee wants to achieve within the organization. The employee learning plan can also be utilized as a tool to gather information from employees to identify company development needs (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013). Employee themselves can act as a source of valuable information. An organization’s needs should correlate with individual career goals in a sense where personal employee satisfaction and effectiveness go hand in hand with the success of the organization’s objectives (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013).
Traditionally the learning plan’s information is used for employee personal and professional growth but it also can be used as data for the needs assessment for the organization. Organizations can use this information to analyze and conclude what the best strategy will be to develop a career development plan for employees and at the same time benefit with that same information for their needs assessment. Even though the learning plan can be a useful tool to identify assessment needs, HR will need to use multiple sources of information to complete a thorough needs analysis. For example, employee performance evaluations, and customer satisfaction feedback about employees from each department (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013).
With creating and implementing a career development plan their can be some gaps that can be associated. The biggest factor that can cause gaps in the plan is time and budget restraints invested into the plan. If there not enough money or if there are budget cuts and not enough time set aside to invest in the plan, it can cause the plan to be unsuccessful or show limited success (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013).
A human resource development team committee can provide a great benefit to develop, coordinate, and oversee the comprehensive career plan to make sure personal growth goals and organization objectives are carried out completely. The committee will be composed of a cross-section of employees throughout the organization that will meet regularly to review the organization’s needs assessment and from the individual learning plan. Committee members have the opportunity to provide feedback, and advice to HR. The committee will create an opportunity for a larger level of support among managers and employees from different parts of the organization (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013).
Other factors that should be considered in the program’s development is an assessment of environmental factors within the organization. Adaptability and adjustments may be required to meet current needs of the employees and the organization as time progresses.
These factors include:
The employee’s integrated plan can be used as a guide for managers to identify gaps in training while at the same time assisting employees in improving their knowledge and skills for a path of more responsibilities or advancement. Employees will be more motivated and engaged with their employer when management is concerned with their well being along with organization objectives.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (2013), “Career development also has a direct impact on the entire organization by improving morale, career satisfaction, motivation, productivity and responsiveness in meeting departmental and organizational objectives” (para. 3). Employees can enhance their knowledge and skills by the integrated plans which will lead to them mastering the duties in their position and will add to their professional development.
The ending results using the integrated plan as a guide will ultimately boost production around the workplace. Managers must keep in mind when using the plan as a guide they must take in consideration the full life cycle of the employee (Society for Human Resource Management, 2013).
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