Explore the top practices to create an effective learning and development strategy, process to facilitate robust employee development
Learning and development or L&D is increasingly becoming a buzzword for most organizations as they seek to augment their employee development efforts. While learning and development is an integral part of human growth, its focus for the workplace has been a result of the market dynamics and uncertainties in the past few years. Employee training and development is not a new concept as everyday is a new learning experience for all employees who pick up several skills and competencies on the job, without even realizing it. However, in recent years, organizations are formalizing the process with a proper structure and approach to make learning and development more overt, conscious and impact driven.
As a first step, let’s understand the importance of L&D for employee development and why it makes sense for organizations to make concrete investments in facilitating the same:
We have time and again come across studies indicating the high costs of employee turnover. A major reason for employees to look out for new opportunities is the lack of engagement and growth potential in their existing roles. Continuous learning and development initiatives can help reverse the trend by enabling employees to upskill themselves and stay relevant in their respective fields and beyond. 70% of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning. Thus, L&D will not only augment the engagement levels, but will also enable organizations to retain the top talent and facilitate growth.
An organization’s bottom line majorly depends on its ability to constantly innovate and gain a competitive edge. The onus for innovation majorly comes from fresh perspectives and skills that employees are exposed to. According to Huffington Post, 24% higher profit margins can be the result of companies who invest in training. With the latest skills as well as knowledge to leverage the best tools, employee productivity will increase, impacting the bottom line in a positive manner. At the same time, with the right skills, employees are also able to understand and serve changing customer needs better.
Studies show that 59% of millennials claim development opportunities are extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position. This clearly illustrates that an organization’s commitment to employee development has a direct impact on how it is perceived by prospective candidates and other stakeholders in the market. The more an organization invests in the development of its employees, the more likely it is to become a preferred employer and brand in the market.
Finally, living in a VUCA world, it is clear that organizations and professionals need to keep up with the ongoing trend to stay relevant and not lose out. Organizations and employees fixated on traditional methods and knowledge are likely to fall back with competitive disadvantage. Therefore, constant learning and development is a tool with which organizations can empower their workforce to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances and display resilience. According to LinkedIN, 99% of L&D professionals feel that if critical skills gaps aren’t closed in the coming years, then their organizations would be negatively impacted in a variety of ways.
Organizations seeking to reap maximum benefits from their learning and development interventions must create a robust learning and development strategy. Such a strategy will help provide a structure to the entire process, making it efficient and effective. Here are the four considerations that can help organizations create a comprehensive learning and development strategy:
Firstly, to be effective, the learning and development strategy must be formal. This suggests that having a written strategy which has been collaboratively created with inputs from all stakeholders is important. Simply having an understanding in conversation will not be enough. Since the strategy will stay with the organizations for many years to come, having something formal is important.
Next, the strategy must illustrate the objectives that the various learning and development initiatives to be carried out, will adhere to. These objectives should create a case of what the L&D initiatives will seek to achieve. It is important for organizations to align these objectives with the larger business goals to ensure that any investments in employee development achieve the dual purpose of business goals and greater engagement.
Once the objectives are set, it is important to identify the right KPIs or metrics to measure the success. While the metrics will be unique to each initiative that is undertaken, it is important to have a cluster of generic indicators to help compare the impact of one initiative against the other. Invariably, these metrics need to be both quantitative and qualitative in nature and should try to put all initiatives at the same level in an unbiased manner.
Finally, a focus should be on keeping the strategy flexible and dynamic. With the extent of uncertainty and ambiguity, anything cast in stone is likely to be self defeating. Therefore, while the policy must be formal, there should be enough room to innovate the same and adapt it to the changing needs and circumstances of employee development.
A learning and development strategy will act as an outline to guide the learning and development process. To ensure that all initiatives create a long-reaching impact, organizations can follow the below process with 5 primary steps to promote employee training and development.
While the first step is to create a strategy, the next one is to gauge and understand what the employees feel. Since one of the purposes of learning and development programs is to create a positive employee experience, it is important to involve them in L&D. On the one hand, the management must do a 360* analysis to understand the gaps that may be retarding the growth and progress. On the other hand, employee opinion on what aspects of learning should the programs focus on must be gauged.
Based on the gaps and employee expectations, a list of programs and initiatives should be created. In case a gap exists in soft skills, workshops or sessions on the same can be conducted. Similarly, if there exist some evident biases, an unconscious bias training can be organized. The identified programs and initiatives must also align with the objectives of the L&D strategy and business goals, to ensure impact.
Once the areas for L&D programs have been identified, it is important to decide how the implementation will take place. Firstly, the mode or the format needs to be decided. Any L&D program can be through workshops, talks, classroom sessions, etc. The idea is to identify which format compliments the identified objective to make learning most effective. Secondly, the partners to implement the program must be identified. While some initiatives can be handled in house, others require external experts. Sometimes, the experts can suggest the most effective formats as well.
Naturally, the next step of the learning and development process is to implement the initiatives. This requires a communication of the idea across all employees and stakeholders creating a case for attending the same. While some sessions can be compulsory, others can offer special incentives for participation. It is important to ensure that employees are aware about the programs well in advance to help them manage their schedules appropriately.
Finally, the last step of the process is to gauge the effectiveness of the program. On the one hand, measuring quantitative metrics aligned with the program must be studied. On the other hand, feedback from employees on the quality and efficacy of the program must be gauged. Taken together, these can help organizations understand whether or not the program has been able to achieve the objectives it set out to achieve and, thereby, understand the impact. Based on the impact, organizations can iterate the process as and when the next initiative is on the cards.
Based on the employee development needs, organizations can identify and leverage different tools to create maximum impact. For a long time, in-person training sessions have been the norm. However, with the transition to a virtual world, various combinations of hybrid learning experiences are being established to facilitate better. Here is a list of a few tools that organizations can explore to facilitate effective employee training and development.
The most commonly used format or tool for employee training and development has been classroom sessions. These involve a one shot training module where participants are introduced to the identified L&D area over a course of a couple of days, consecutively. All the learning is captured in those few days. These sessions generally touch upon different aspects of the identified area one after the other, to give a classroom like experience with an expert facilitator and a combination of activities to make the session interactive.
The switch to remote work has seen an exponential surge in the adoption of webinars as a mode of training and development. As opposed to a classroom setup, webinars are bite sized learning modules and their dissemination may occur over a longer period than just a couple of days. While most webinars are conducted live to promote engagement, they are also available on demand to facilitate asynchronous learning. Since the attention span greatly reduces in a virtual setting, webinars are an effective way to promote learning, without overwhelming the learner with too much to absorb.
The two tools mentioned above are most ideal for employee development centred around upskilling or formal learning. However, learning and development at the workplace also happens through knowledge sharing and the entire ecosystem. Here, networking with experts, peers and meetups are extremely effective. While they may not directly add to one’s hard skills, they have a great scope to promote holistic development for professionals and accelerate their growth trajectory.
Finally, organizations are also increasingly focusing on personalized learning for employees to address their individual needs and expectations. Here investing in courses, both online and offline, can be beneficial. This is especially true for employees that are demanding learning and development support in their hard skills. For instance, one might need support in one technology stack, the other might need it for something different. Here, empowering them with different courses available in the market is a wise move to ensure the best skill sets come to the team, while also creating a positive experience for all.
Different organizations are at different levels of the learning and development journey. Here are examples of learning and development programs for employees that some of the most forward looking organizations are conducting and creating new opportunities for growth for their workforce.
An e-commerce platform focussed on handmade and vintage offerings, Etsy deserves credit for its continuous learning and development approach for its workforce with Etsy School. It allows Etsy Teams to conduct a series of workshops and projects to help strengthen a Team through improving member shops together and making friends. Run across different themes, these workshops facilitate upskilling, engagement and team bonding.
The tech giant, Amazon, has been true to its commitment to learning and development of its workforce by investing $700 million to provide free skills training to employees. It aims to help them further their careers in high-paying, in-demand roles, such as cloud computing. Additionally, initiatives like Career Choice, Amazon Technical Academy, Machine Learning University, Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program illustrate their focus on employee development.
Growing from a telephone to a telecommunications company, AT&T’s focus on learning and development is exemplary. The organization invested about $166 million in direct employee training and professional development programs and delivered 16 million hours of training in 2020. Some of its top initiatives include: AT&T University, with 900 leadership and career courses, leveraging partnerships with learning institutions such as Harvard Business and LinkedIn Learning; Virtual Studios Leader-Led Training, that broadcasts live, leader-led training to employees across the globe, among others.
Any learning and development program that seeks to create impact must keep the employee at the center. Therefore, gauging employee pulse and feedback is extremely important. Here, organizations can partner with platforms like SuperBeings to conduct pulse surveys and get insights on what their employees feel. At the same time, they can benefit from data-backed action plans to facilitate programs that address these needs.
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‘Onboarding: How to get your new employees up to speed in half the time’ - George Bradt, founder and Chairman PrimeGenesis
Did you know that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%?
However, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job at onboarding new employees.
This clearly states that while employee onboarding has a direct impact on the bottom line, most organizations miss out on how to get it right.
Don’t let that happen to you. To onboard new employees like a pro, keep reading.
By definition, an onboarding survey is a questionnaire that is administered on new hires to gauge their initial experience and level of satisfaction, in an attempt to understand their engagement and retention potential.
As an HR, you can get multiple insights from an onboarding survey, including:
It can help you estimate how long the employees are likely to stay and how you can further optimize your onboarding process to make it more aligned with employee expectations.
An effective onboarding survey can help you reflect on your performance through the onboarding process, which directly impacts KPIs for organizational success, including:
93% of employers believe a good onboarding experience is critical in influencing a new employee’s decision whether to stay with the company. At the same time, 25% of a company’s new hires would leave within a year if the onboarding experience was poor.
20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member and an onboarding survey can help you identify the reasons for the same. However, new team members who were asked to provide feedback prior to their start date also had a 79% increase in willingness to refer others. Thus, illustrating how onboarding surveys and feedback can impact eNPS.
Employees with exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and 70% say they have ‘the best possible job’.
77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals. However, 49% of individuals who failed to reach their first performance milestone had no official onboarding instruction. An onboarding survey can help you determine the effectiveness of your onboarding process.
In addition, your new employees might also have an inclination towards providing feedback as a part of the onboarding survey, which you will lose out if you don’t conduct the same. Research shows that only 26% of new employees recall being asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date wherein 91% of new hires are willing to provide this feedback.
Now that you understand the importance of an employee onboarding survey, let’s quickly discuss how to effectively run an onboarding survey.
You must coincide your employee onboarding survey with important milestones for the new employee in the organization. Mostly, these milestones coincide with the end of the first few months. Thus, you should circulate your onboarding survey after 30, 60 and 90 days respectively, with different objectives for each. Furthermore, you can send interim surveys in case you feel the need, for instance, when the employee starts a project, or when the orientation process is over.
“Effective employee onboarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.”- Suhail Doshi, founder and chairman of Mixpanel, Inc.
Based on the milestones or cadence you have set up, it is important to identify areas you would want to cover with each milestone. For instance:
In the first 30 days, you should focus on themes like:
In 60 days, you can touch on themes like:
By the end of 90 days, focus should shift towards:
Once you have decided the themes, you can start building questions, a snapshot of which is covered in the next section or you can download the template now here. The themes can be fluid across milestones, depending on the context for your organization.
Once the milestone arrives, you should roll out the onboarding survey and drive participation. It is important to explain to your new employees why the onboarding survey is important and how they can fill it up. Give them the requisite time, deadlines and communicate what will be the next steps to encourage them to participate.
Simply rolling out the survey is not enough. You must reach out to your new employees to remind them to fill the onboarding survey as amidst numerous new things, they might lose track of it. Don’t push too hard, yet send subtle reminders to get genuine responses. For instance: employee survey tools such as SuperBeings integrate with chat tools like Slack, Teams, Gchat to send personalized nudges to fill out the survey in the flow of work at set intervals as well as allows them to participate directly without switching context.
Unlock a wide array of survey questions and employee analytics. See how SuperBeings can help
Once your onboarding survey responses are in, slice and dice them to get insights into what your employees feel and leverage the data points to further refine your onboarding process to facilitate engagement, retention and advocacy from the beginning.
Taking cue from the section above, here are 50+ onboarding survey questions that you can leverage to gauge the pulse of your new employees as they complete different milestones.
You can also download these questions as a template and use it whenever you need. Click here to download
By now, it would be very clear to you that an employee onboarding survey can help you in multiple ways to create a high performance culture. It can enable you to augment retention, engagement, satisfaction and advocacy among employees to ensure that there is minimal turnover and you are able to attract high quality talent. Ensure that you roll out an onboarding survey at 30/60/90 days frequency to check onboarding experience, knowledge transfer, manager support, role clarity, etc.
You should focus on other forms of employee feedback on culture, training and development opportunities, level of engagement, manager effectiveness, workplace collaboration, work-life balance, among others.
Finally, you should focus on leveraging technology and automation to add efficiency and effectiveness to your onboarding survey and process.
Research shows, automating onboarding tasks resulted in a 16% increase in retention rates for new hires.
Thus, consider partnering with a survey platform which enables you to:
When it comes to performance management for employees, you would agree that feedback plays an important role. However, only offering positive feedback and appreciating the performance of your employees is not enough. You need to give them an equal amount of constructive feedback which is specific to ensure high levels of performance. If you feel that your employees may not embrace constructive feedback, think again.
Research shows that 92% of people believe that constructive feedback is effective at improving performance.
In this article we will help you understand how you can give constructive feedback and examples you can leverage.
Constructive feedback is essentially a tool that most forward looking professionals leverage to help others in their team with specific and constructive inputs on areas where one’s performance can be improved. Put simply, if you have an employee who doesn’t pay attention to detail, constructive feedback involves helping them acknowledge that this is a problem area, and more than that, enabling them with the support to overcome the same. It involves not only identifying a performance problem, but also, providing action items and ways to address the same.
Now that you have an understanding of what constructive feedback means, let’s quickly look at some of the top reasons why constructive feedback is important. Constructive feedback:
When delivering feedback, you must understand the difference between positive and constructive feedback and ensure that you use both of them where they fit the best. Here a quick distinction between positive feedback vs constructive feedback:
In a nutshell, positive feedback is a reinforcement tool, whereas constructive feedback is a mechanism to facilitate development.
With an understanding of the fundamentals of constructive feedback, let’s quickly jump to the best practices which can help you deliver constructive feedback in a nuanced and effective manner.
The first thing you need to focus on is ensuring that the timing of the constructive feedback is ideal. For instance, a busy period when the employee is putting in a lot of effort may not be ideal for giving them feedback about their performance from three months ago. At the same time, ensure that you provide constructive feedback regularly and consistently, to avoid recency or primacy bias. However, don’t offer feedback when you are angry about their performance either.
Before you get down to giving the feedback, set the tone. Share with the employee the purpose of the meeting and make them comfortable prior to sharing your reflections. It is important that you build trust so your employees can share their perspective and don’t feel intimidated by what you have to say.
Once the context and tone is set, start sharing your reflections. Your focus should be on sharing what you have observed about their performance. However, ensure that you also share how the same is likely to impact their career growth as well as organizational success. For instance, if you are providing constructive feedback about missing deadlines, you can use the impact of losing clients for the organization and a casual attitude marker for the employee.
When sharing reflections, use specific examples of when you noticed a particular behavior. For instance, in the above example, you can share instances of when the employee missed his/her deadlines. Ensure that you use examples which illustrate a pattern, rather than a one off incident, which is very uncommon. Furthermore, always use concrete examples and not interpretation of what you hear or see.
With constructive feedback, your focus should be on helping the employee improve their performance and work on their areas of development.
However, simply pointing out their weaknesses or negatives in their performance will not help. You need to also talk about some of the positive aspects of their performance and how those qualities can help them absorb and implement their constructive feedback.
Emotional intelligence is extremely important when delivering constructive feedback. You cannot be apathetic towards your employee when delivering the same. Put yourself in their shoes to choose your phrases carefully. We will share some examples in the next section. Also, use your EQ to read the situation when you are delivering the feedback. If you see that the employee is getting uncomfortable, take a pause and comfort them first. Read their gestures and body language to ensure that the employee is not feeling attacked.
Like it or not, constructive feedback involves pointing out one’s weaknesses and areas of improvement. However, you should refrain from equating the performance of the employee with his/her personality or whole self. For instance, if someone misses deadlines, encourage them to be more organized or prioritize important work, than labeling them as a procrastinator.
While you are delivering the constructive feedback, you have to make sure it is a dialogue.
The idea is to give the other person enough room to share their side of the story.
Try to understand whether or not they agree with your feedback and how they perceive the same. They may share the lack of support or resources, which have resulted in a weak performance. Be open to some reverse feedback as well. Again, your EQ must be at play here. If your employee has an outburst, or reacts negatively, you need to stay composed and calm them down.
Once you and your employee are aligned on the areas of improvement, the most important part of constructive feedback is to provide adequate solutions to address the performance challenges. Don’t give abstract or vague solutions like be punctual if the employee misses deadlines. Rather, give very specific and action oriented solutions which are directed towards a particular outcome. The idea is to collectively understand the cause of the weak area of performance and use concrete solutions to remedy the same.
Now that you have shared some potential solutions, you must revise the top action items with your employee to avoid any confusion. At the same time, you should focus on creating a time bound plan with key milestones to ensure that development is taking place. Summarize what was discussed and how you will proceed from there. Best is to set up a date to review the progress to ensure constructive feedback is paid heed to.
Read our article on Start Stop Continue Feedback to give action oriented feedback
Here are top 20 constructive feedback examples that you can use during your next conversation. To make your constructive feedback more effective, we have also illustrated examples of what you should steer away from.
I would really like to know how you have progressed on the tasks assigned to you last month. It would be ideal if you could share a progress update on what has been achieved with a small summary of challenges/ support needed at the end of every week to ensure everyone is on the same page.
You have not kept your team updated about your work, this is highly unprofessional.
I was going through the work you submitted last week and I can see you have put in a lot of effort. However, I could see that there were some small errors and inaccuracies in the report across multiple sections. I believe that if you proofread your work thoroughly before turning it in, it will reduce the number of iterations and improve your quality of work.
You seem completely distracted as you have been submitting flawed and below average work, this will not be tolerated.
I understand that you are working on multiple projects, however, you need to ensure that the most important projects are not overlooked and their timelines are not missed. Therefore, I would suggest you create a list of tasks you are working on and check with the respective reporting managers on the priority and set clear expectations to ensure that no deadlines are missed.
You have missed your deadline again, it seems like you are not serious about you work.
I see that you have been able to achieve only a part of the goals that you set out for this year. Maybe you were trying to spread yourself too thin. I would suggest you reduce the number of projects you are working on and ensure that the goals you set you are able to achieve. Furthermore, you must be vocal about the support or resources you need to achieve your goals.
Are you even serious about your work, your level of goal achievement indicates otherwise.
I see that you have been taking some time off lately, without any prior intimation. Let’s try to understand if there is a particular reason for the same. We can work on your schedule to make it more flexible.
You have been missing all meetings lately, this tardiness is not appreciated.
I see that you are excellent at execution of ideas. However, I believe that you need to focus more on coming up with solutions on your own. I would suggest participating more in the brainstorming sessions and coming up with solutions. Try to think on your own, before you reach out to others with the problem.
You lack any problem solving capabilities, and will be stuck to execution for the rest of your career.
Constructive feedback is integral to organizational success. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
While performance management has been a key priority for organizations, for a long time, year end reviews were considered to be the most effective way to facilitate the same. However, recently organizations are observing a shift towards continuous performance management with an introduction of the performance management cycle. This article will focus on different aspects of the performance management cycle and how it enables unlocking the potential of high performance teams.
Before going into the diverse aspects, you should first understand what a performance management cycle essentially is. If you have an idea of what continuous performance management is, you’re already a step ahead in the understanding. Performance management cycle primarily is a way or a model in which you evaluate or focus on the performance of your employees throughout the year. The idea is to break down the different elements of employee performance into different stages and focus on them consistently. It starts with setting goals and ends with rewards for a job well done, which leads to setting of new goals and the performance management cycle resets.
While you may want to divide your performance management cycle into any number of stages, mostly there are four stages.
The first stage, at the very beginning of the performance management cycle, focuses on creating a plan for the performance ahead. The idea is to have a clear understanding on what your employee must achieve and how you will eventually review and evaluate them. During the planning stage, you and your team member, collectively should:
Thus, the planning stage of the performance management cycle sets the tone for the year ahead and ensures there is clarity at all levels.
Once the goals have been set in the planning stage, you enter the monitoring stage of the performance management cycle. This stage essentially focuses on ensuring that things are moving as planned. The idea is to ascertain that your team members are more or less on track for specific milestones outlined as a part of goal setting. Additionally, this stage will help you address any performance challenges that you may observe, sooner than later. Monitoring stage includes:
The monitoring stage essentially focuses on tracking the performance of your employees against the set goals to provide constructive feedback and help them perform better.
The third stage of the performance management cycle comes into existence towards the end. It involves reviewing the performance and providing ratings based on the established KPIs and metrics. While this is the formal review process, if you have been constantly monitoring the performance of your employees, this will essentially be a consolidation of all the reviews and feedback shared overtime. While delivering performance reviews, ensure that you:
Since you have been connecting regularly with your employees, the reviews will not come as a surprise to them, but will help you monitor the trends of their performance and guide the next stage for the employee’s professional growth.
Finally, the rewarding stage in the performance management cycle acts as a culmination to one cycle and sets stage for the commencement of the next. The objective is to take into account their performance over the performance management cycle and create a culture of rewards and recognition to celebrate and appreciate high performance. Some of the quick ways to reward your employees include, giving them:
This stage is important to make your employees feel valued and motivate them to keep the performance going. It will also push average performers to step up their efforts and enable you to create a high performance culture.
Now that you understand the various stages of a performance management cycle, let’s quickly look at why the performance management cycle is important for your organization. It will help you:
In addition to the above mentioned benefits, a performance management cycle can help you build a high performance culture in a number of ways. Some of the top aspects include:
What constitutes high performance can be abstract. For some, closing 5 deals can be high performance, for others, it might be closing 15. Planning stage in the performance management lifecycle will help your employees understand what constitutes high performance and thus, proceed towards it.
A key part of the performance management cycle is the rewards and recognition. When employees feel their performance is being valued and recognized, they tend to double up their efforts, leading to a high performance team.
Monitoring and tracking followed by 1-o-1 conversations can help you communicate with your employees regularly. Not only will you track their performance, but will also listen to their concerns or challenges and offer them feedback. Such conversations and feedback have a positive impact on performance, leading to a high performance culture.
One of the foundations of high performance is enabling your team members to undergo the right training. Performance management cycle can help you understand which training is important for your employees at which performance stage, realizing high quality results.
As a manager, there are several ways in which you can unlock the true potential of a performance management cycle. You are one of the key stakeholders who plays an important role in every stage of the cycle. Here are a few tips that can help you augment the effectiveness of the performance management cycle:
A performance management tool can significantly help you streamline your performance management cycle by offering the following benefits.
Get automated performance snapshots of your employee’s performance over the 9 box grid to track performance trends over time and provide reviews without recency bias.
Leverage guided templates with AI based suggestions for your 1:1 conversations with employees during the monitoring stage based on performance over time. Receive suggested talking points for goal-centered conversations.
Look at historic feedback to see improvement in performance and compare performance over time. You can also compare performance of peers over specific parameters.