Written by: Ashley Rambo, Sr. Talent Development Strategist
We live in a world that is ever-changing. If you’re not growing, you’re falling behind. And we all have a deeper need to grow, make a difference, live up to our potential, and fill purpose (self-actualization). Self-driven employee development is a means to accomplish this in the modern workplace.
What is Self-Driven Employee Development?
Self-driven employee development is the process through which an employee drives the planning and execution of their personal and professional development. This exists in a workplace where growth is expected, supported, and fostered.
How Does it Help your Organization?
In addition to increased employee retention, a workplace that fosters self-driven development enjoys the benefits of increased employee ownership and higher alignment with the strategies of the organization.
1. Increased Retention
Opportunity for self-driven development is a major influencer of employee engagement, especially among millennials. Simply collecting a paycheck isn’t enough to keep them content. Representing the largest portion of the current workforce, millennials expect their jobs to have opportunities to learn and grow.
Overwhelmingly, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job – far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.
2. Increased Ownership
Self-driven employee development is not the abandonment of one’s role in the pursuit of another. Instead, it begins with exploring new ways of approaching one’s current job to create greater impact. Each employee is expected to occasionally step back from their role and take an objective assessment. How does the role align with the team’s purpose? Does the role support the goals of the team? What does success look like within the role?
3. Increased Alignment
In every organization, employees expect that leadership will develop strategies leading to progress towards the goal. In self-driven development, the organization expects that every employee creates strategies that will result in progress towards the goal. These two expectations co-exist through collaboration and a clear identification of the expected outcomes.
When an employee knows what outcome is expected, they see their purpose within the team, recognize their impact on the organization and clearly understand what they own. Micro-management only expects the employee to see the next step and move towards it. Self-driven development frees the employee to move towards the larger goals of the organization. This curious self-exploration leads to the implementation and development of skills necessary to achieve the desired outcomes.
How to Implement Self-Driven Employee Development
The best way to plan and execute self-driven development depends entirely on the individual employee. While the employee holds the reigns in their own development, managers are key in determining its success. Managers need to know how each employee best learns and ensure that he or she is learning through various outlets.
Expect and Value Growth
As a manager, if you expect it, then you must recognize it. Help your employees increase awareness of themselves and affirm their growth. Then, get out of the way. If you find that the employee is not making progress down the road, then re-engage and find out why. In doing so, you’re reiterating the expectation and affirming its value.
As an employee, you must first be clear on the expectations of your role and know why it exists. How is your role contributing to the needs of the team, department, and organization? This is an objective look at your role, and an opportunity to assess the value of your role. If you believe there is an alternative approach to achieving the desired outcome, then pursue it. If you feel your strengths are not in alignment with the needs of the role, then speak up.
As a manager, it’s imperative that you have your employee’s back. But do not hold their hand. Rather, create a culture where the employee feels they have space and support to take risks. Help them see their future self, feel inspired, and courageously move into action.
The biggest way you can drive self-driven employee development is to give your team the space they need to explore, experiment and reflect. Draw out strengths in meaningful ways so they can contribute to functions outside of their role. For some, it’s new projects or responsibilities. For others, it’s more formalized learning through classes or coursework.
As an employee, identify the type of person that you want to be. Then move towards it.
We do not know what we are capable of until we are put in situations that require us to do more than we thought we could. More than just output; it is our capability. Leaders can foster a growth environment by giving employees autonomy and support to tackle stretch goals and challenging work.
More Employee Development Suggestions
In self-driven development, leaders are the support and the guidance, but each employee is responsible for driving and doing it. As a leader, your job is to help them see it, find it, and feel safe to have the courage try it. Hold the mirror up to empower others to see what they’ve accomplished and to help them find the next mountain to climb.
Contact Leverage Talent Enrichment for more insight into how to spark an environment of self-driven employee development in your workplace.