Motivate Employee Participation in Professional Development
Opportunities and Improve Performance
Gayle Lantz, http://gaylelantz.com
When company executives think of
employee development, they often search for training programs,
educational seminars, coaching, or the latest book that might offer
ideas on what employees can do to sharpen skills or strengthen
expertise. However, none of these programs will be effective if the
organization lacks one critical success factor: individual motivation.
An individual has to want to develop himself before any employee
training and development program can be successful.
Some say they’re “too busy.” Some say
they’re “already developed.” Some blame the boss. Some like burying
their heads in the sand, afraid of what they might learn about
What can you do to help your employees
achieve best performance?
Here are some tips to help motivate the
seemingly unmotivated and increase your organization’s overall
1. Target the highly motivated and
All organizations have individuals who
are highly motivated. They stand out more easily. They typically like
challenges and welcome growth opportunities for themselves. Engage them
in activities to help them get even better. The improved performance of
the highly motivated will help raise the bar for your entire
organization. Those who are less motivated will have to step up the
2. Focus on the future.
Rather than concentrate on performance
areas that aren’t working for an individual, talk about possibilities
for the future. It’s easier to become energized about new possibilities
than dwelling on weaknesses. Determine the positive outcome that will
occur if a change/improvement is made. For example, you might say, “We
can reach more buyers if you can speak more frequently to groups. What
can you do to hone your presentation skills to help secure more
business?” Help employees keep their eye on the goal, not their ego.
3. Open dialogue about desire.
Discussions about development should
be positive and ongoing -- not limited to annual performance reviews.
Let the individual lead. Rather than saying, “Here are areas you need to
develop,” ask “What would help you build on your strengths or increase
your effectiveness?” When a particular approach has been identified, ask
for commitment to follow-through. Create a culture where ongoing
development is expected, encouraged and rewarded at all levels.
4. Start at the top.
Executives should model the commitment
to growth and development that they want to see throughout the
organization. After all, many problems disguised as employee development
issues actually reflect leadership deficiencies of the firm or
Consider using assessments of some kind
to help employees gain a more objective perspective about them.
Assessments can be helpful or destructive depending on how they are
In the end, it’s all about achieving
what both the employees and what the organization wants. Be clear about
what’s most important to both.
An employee development and training
program is not something to be checked off on a checklist. The strongest
organizations make employee development an integral part of their
culture and strategies for success. They constantly seek new and
innovate ways to engage their people in development opportunities to
achieve best results.
Gayle Lantz, is an organizational development consultant and
executive coach who works with organizations such as NASA, Southern
Company and Compass Bank. She helps employees and organizations leverage
their strengths to achieve important results. For more tips on how to
make the most of your work, sign up for “WorkMatters Tips” at