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Is Your Employee Development Plan Half-Baked?

Getting Started with Employee-Centric, Personalized Development

A theme we come across every day at large companies is weak employee development planning and a lack of crisp, focused development action. So, we figured we would add some color on the challenge.

We have all been there, probably many times, on one side of the table or the other. The manager and employee are having a “development planning” conversation, but neither is plugged in enough to make it valuable. How you plan to grow professionally this year and how the company supports that growth in line with its own goals – wow, sounds like it might be important. But, what happens instead is some half-baked chatter just to steer clear of the ‘corporate nag.’ Check the box, stay off the wrong list, and keep things moving….

What This Half-Baked Conversation Sounds Like in the Heads of the Manager and the Employee:

Manager: “Why is this person looking for me to lead this conversation? I don’t have all the answers!”

Manager: “I don’t even know what to focus on here. I should probably be better at this!”

Manager: “Is there a helpline to call for recommendations? He’s looking at me like I’m a moron!”

(Think of Dunder Mifflin Branch Manager Michael Scott from NBC’s hit show, “The Office.”)


Employee: “This guy doesn’t get me at all. And he sounds a bit like a moron.”

Employee: “None of this has anything to do with what I really want to learn. Weird.”

Employee: “Let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to do any of what’s on this piece of paper.”

Light portrayal, but heavy issue. Companies spend $145 billion annually on training and development, yet less than half of those dollars lead to a tangible return, and despite the massive investments, 63 percent of CEO’s are concerned about the availability of key skills. What’s the answer?

First Step:  Know Your People. Second Step: Learning that Fits

70 percent of employees say their organization should understand them to the same degree they are expected to understand customers.[1] This stat puts companies on their toes a bit, but in reality it starts back with the employee. The employee needs to own their part of this conversation, because nobody is going to own it for them. They need to articulate their narrative crisply enough for the manager and the company to actually respond to their needs and priorities. This should start with some good analysis –defining their work motivators and career interests. If the employee needs help with this analysis, they should be proactive and seek out some mentorship and peer feedback. Once they’re clear, they should weave this story into how they set their three or four annual performance goals and how they plan to contribute to their team’s key mandates.

As talent management thought leader Marc Effron said in his book One Page Talent Management, “goals aligned with self-interest motivate the most.” Employee-centric goals will drive the development conversation and most effectively improve individual and organizational performance over time.

Managers are busy. Effron states that they tend to “prioritize coaching, performance feedback, and creating development plans after activities that provide a more immediate benefit to their business.” They want to be better developers of talent but lack the information to really coach and steward growth efficiently, and the effort needed to acquire the information seems much greater than the return.

Proactive employees should shape the dialogue about career and performance goals, and talk about any barriers that might get in the way of achieving those goals. Actionable information and proactive employees make ‘doing development’ easier on the time-poor manager, which leads to a much higher likelihood that accountability, productive feedback and resourcing, and outcomes follow.

Once conversations are happening at this level, it becomes easier and more natural for the manager to connect the dots for team members with options like stretch projects, peer-to-peer networking, mentoring, internally or externally run training programs, online learning content, etc. –  especially when the company’s learning assets are known and available at their fingertips. As team members chip away at their development steps, talent and experience grow, goals get delivered, rewards follow and the manager is made a hero.

The SumTotal Learn solution is the market leader, with over 45 million people using the solution to increase their effectiveness and productivity in companies of all sizes and all geographies. SumTotal Learn is the only LMS that provides personalised, contextual learning with the flexibility to enable world-class formal training and certification programs as well as day-to-day informal learning and knowledge sharing. With powerful learning management capabilities for businesses of all sizes, complete learning content management, content creation, measurement tools, offline learning tools and next generation mobile and social learning products, the SumTotal Learn solution can be used anytime, anywhere on nearly any device.

SumTotal’s Enterprise Learning Management enables organisations to:
- Deploy faster with open activity architecture
- Reduce non-compliance with continuing-education management
- Improve user adoption with an enhanced, intuitive user experience
- Increase visibility with personalized dashboards
- Reach employees on the go with mobile and off-line learning capabilities

More details of this software

Publisher press

> 05/11/2015 - Skillsoft and SumTotal Celebrate First Year as Combined Organization

> 23/10/2015 - Latest SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite Release Simplifies Talent Management Experience and Supports Employees in Driving Their Own Development

> 02/09/2015 - How to Understand and Measure Employee Engagement

> 17/08/2015 - The UK Apprenticeship Levy: Treating the Symptom

> 22/06/2015 - Is Your Employee Development Plan Half-Baked?

> 12/06/2015 - Skillsoft Unveils the “Self-Developing Organization” at 2015 Global Skillsoft Perspectives

> 29/05/2015 - Skillsoft and IBM Research Unveil New Applications for Big Data

> 22/05/2015 - Skillsoft Announces 2015 Innovation Award Winners and Talent Development Champion of the Year

> 15/05/2015 - Skillsoft Announces Acquisition of Vodeclic

> 17/04/2015 - Staying on Top of Your Game at Perspectives

> 07/04/2015 - Skillsoft’s Perspectives 2015 to Showcase Customers, Industry Experts and the Latest Innovations in Learning and Talent Management

> 16/03/2015 - interview (e-learning): Steven Rees-Pullman VP EMEA Sales, SumTotal Systems a Skillsoft company

> 03/03/2015 - SumTotal Named a Leader in IDC MarketScape Report on Learning Management

> 12/12/2014 - SumTotal 2014 Innovation Award Winners Demonstrate Value in Using HR Technology to Transform Workforces and Achieve Organizational Goals

> 05/11/2014 - SumTotal Expands Global Footprint, Partners with Three New Resellers

> 23/10/2014 - SumTotal and Its Customers Recognized for Innovation in HR Solutions and Programs

> 20/10/2014 - SumTotal Announces TotalConnection 2014 Sponsors and Speaker Lineup

> 13/10/2014 - Latest SumTotal Talent Expansion® Enhancements Extend Employee Engagement, Retention, Succession Planning Capabilities

> 07/10/2014 - Skillsoft completes acquisitio of SumTotal Systems

> 16/09/2014 - HR Technology Provider Expands Business with Triple-digit Increases in Second Quarter Bookings

> 05/09/2014 - Hr experts examine value of extended learning in SumTotal webinar series

> 28/08/2014 - 4 Secrets to a Happy and Productive Career

> 14/08/2014 - Sumtotal and Fistful of talent team up for interactive, virtual hr hangout events

> 24/07/2014 - SumTotal reveals industry expert speakers for 10th annual global user conference: TotalConnection 2014

> 19/06/2014 - Fallon Health achieves success using SumTotal Talent expansion™ for employee engagement, regulatory compliance

> 21/01/2014 - SumTotal Systems Names Hardeep Gulati Chief Executive Officer

> 08/10/2013 - SumTotal’s Talent Expansion Suite Delivers Industry’s First Context-Aware User Experience for HR

> 16/09/2013 - SumTotal receives four Best of Elearning! 2013 Awards

> 05/09/2013 - Organizations Using Advanced Workforce Analytics Report Outperforming Their Competitors, According to a Study from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services

> 19/08/2013 - Developing Learning and Compliance (SumTotal : VieCuri medical centre case study)