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How to grow the 99%

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Research in the factors that drive workplace performance and motivation consistently finds that helping employees achieve their personal and professional goals is one of the top three motivators at work.
Yet even companies with talent management programmes seldom look beyond functional and technical training for the majority of their employees, writes Martin Sutherland, global director at YouLabonline.com.
Because mentoring, coaching and top business schools are so expensive, most companies are only able to invest in a few of the people who they have identified as their current and future leaders. This can mean that as few as 1% of the workforce benefit from organisationally funded personal development each year.
But empowering the rest of the 99% to develop and improve their performance as well as to make better career and personal choices can be a valuable differentiator for any organisation. As important as the top tier of employees and managers are, 99% of people who make up the rest of the organisation have a significant impact on customer experience and financial performance.
It is now possible to invest in these employees, and organisations that do will be better able to engage their staff to make a contribution as well as attract the best talent to work for them. Personal development is a compelling part of the employee value proposition for any organisation.
This is especially important when dealing with the generation Y and millennial employees who place a much higher value on personal development.
What’s more, investing in employees can unleash untapped potential in the workforce, leading to better performance throughout the organisation. By identifying their strengths and developing their talents, each person can do just a little bit more. An organisation that taps into a 10% improvement in the 99% can have a much bigger impact than one that produces a 50% improvement in the 1%.
Most organisations are doing a decent job of ensuring employees develop their functional and technical competencies, because without them a job can’t be done.
But, it was found that empathy, composure and decisiveness that differentiated the great call centre supervisor who created a great customer experience from a technically proficient one that didn’t. In other words, companies need to invest in the same sort of personal development throughout the organisation that they do when developing the top 1% – 5% of leaders.
In the past, this sort of support and guidance would be provided by a personal mentor or coach. But today the power and reach of technology provides a range of ways to give low-cost, personalised coaching to the rest of the workforce.
It is now possible to give people the ability to accurately identify and understand their strengths and areas for development, match them to a variety of professional and personal situations to target specific development needs, and provide them with easy to implement, personalised advice that will increase their chances of success.
This sort of investment in people will become the factor that separates the top performing organisations from the rest in the years to come. The best businesses have great people not just because they have been lucky enough to employ them, but because they have actively worked to help their people to grow their potential in every way.