One challenge a growing organization faces involves sustaining a team of skilled professionals that can meet the growing expectations and needs of the business. Even more difficult is the task of filling less-desirable roles, such as shifted positions, where employees endure difficult hours and see less room for opportunity. One way to address these challenges involves adding more value to the roles themselves.
A 2019 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer found that, "curated learning is not new; what's changing is how it is being used to shape content relevant to a particular ambition, close a known skills gap, or build connections among peers who can share expertise." As mentioned by employees who took the survey, "creative thinking" and "learning about technology" are what they believe will make them more competitive in their respective industry. Most people are familiar with the term “job security." In some professions, that means treading water in an open ocean of ebbing responsibilities and growing complexity. Instead of simply floating, waiting for the tide to move them, employees demand clear and available opportunities for development to grow themselves and pave their own path to long-term success.
Opportunity for growth is closely aligned with how employees value a given role. In the past, organizations provided opportunity by placing the responsibility for driving advancement and defining training objectives on the employees themselves. Formal development options were available to them, but the employee had to engage to get the benefit. This can make a role less appealing by:
Making each employee responsible for defining their specific learning objectives and creating their own learning opportunities requires a lot of extra work. The challenge here is that some employees see this as a demand of time beyond their normal workload.
Management understands the direction of the organization, knows the needs of the business and should be providing guidance to achieve goals. Sometimes this level of direction doesn’t always cascade through the organization to team members who need to make training decisions and employees could end up enrolled in training that is not aligned with a company's growth strategy.
While promoting independent workers is great, the world and the workforce are becoming more social. Working together enables us to solve larger problems in more innovative and efficient ways. Having employees work on their own to grow and train themselves can lead to isolation and fails to promote additional collaboration between team members. Whether you’re an established firm with years of experience or a hungry start-up, personal growth plays a growing part in the value of employment for organizations. Focusing development on your current and future employees is one of the biggest value-adding activities.
At West Monroe, we realize that providing opportunity for growth results in greater employee satisfaction and a workforce that grows organically to sustain new demands and adapt to changing environments.
We've approached this problem by focusing on the training and development of our team. More specifically, the mentor program we developed shifts responsibility to leaders with technology-specific or task-specific expertise. They conduct one-on-one structured training with team members on the technologies we use most often, as well as emerging technologies with growing demand from industry. This approach empowers junior resources to increase capabilities and to address the technical challenges that come up most frequently. In addition, we've found that having our more seasoned team members lead the mentoring has a positive effect on company culture. By developing deeper relationships and giving newer team members an opportunity to grow, they build connections and develop their careers.
Forging a mentor program with the dual goals of educating team members and growing professional relationships has enabled us to:
Rather than having employees put in extra time and effort to define their own training, our technical experts are defining the training programs. This top-down approach empowers our team to quickly review available options and choose the available courses that they believe most fits with their interests and skill set.
Having leaders define, develop and own training programs ensures content is designed towards business needs and focused on development around specific elements that add the most value. This provides a customized result with targeted training that streamlines the delivery of learning and removes unnecessary topics that won't be used or be valuable in the future.
Because traditional training approaches do not have a social focus, they do not promote or develop social connections that are important to the development of the organization. For both seasoned members of the firm and new-hires, having more opportunity for social growth will expand professional networks and promote more opportunity for future development and cooperation between individuals and teams.
Ultimately, our mentor program benefits not only our team but our clients as well. As our capabilities improve, so does our opportunity to add business value to help our clients achieve their goals. If you’re interested in learning more about what we’ve developed, feel free to reach out.