We know this engagement thing is a balance. As Paul Hebert from Symbolist outlined for us, it's critically important for companies to increase their "organizational discretionary effort" to see the discretionary effort from team members.
Completely agree. But it takes both sides.
And sometimes, it’s not me <insert HR pro name, company name, type of program>, it’s you <team member, employee, individual contributor>.
Development programs for employees are one example of how organizations can increase discretionary effort. Cenikor has a leadership development program (LEAD program - Leadership, Engagement, Accountability and Development) which is a year-long program, and team members apply if they want to participate and they meet the criteria for nomination to the program. So they self-select into the program and there is an approval process.
The program itself is structured with a customized training agenda and a mentor who is paired based on the individual's self-identified career goals. Mentors and mentees are scheduled to talk for 30 minutes each week or an hour every other week, for a total of 2 hours a month on topics related to their growth as a leader or current issues they are facing, etc. Feedback is solicited every 60 days to ensure participants are getting what they are seeking and for us to make improvements to the program, and we have incorporated new ideas each year of the past 3 years. Success rates (as measured by promotion and performance) have been pretty incredible.
In spite of the application process which outlines both the benefits and time commitment, a kickoff webinar which sets expectations for both mentors and mentees, inevitably, after the first month or so, we have at least 2-3 participants who back out saying the development program is too time-consuming, getting in the way of their “real work”. We offer assistance with time management and mentors have even offered to do the calls on weekends. Most often, they opt out anyway.
Really? Your continued professional or personal development is too time-consuming for you? Not a problem, we have a no-fault termination option.
And after a couple of years of agonizing, it was definitely a lesson learned. We revised the kick-off webinar to be sure we set clear expectations on the front end, made some changes to the first couple months to help get those possible 2-3 engaged from the start in the program, and even with those improvements made, it still happened.
I finally realized I had to quit agonizing on those few who are not willing to be “on the hook” and accountable for their development. If they arent willing to spend some of their discretionary time on themselves, at what point are we wanting their development and success more than they are?
My recommendation to other managers, executives and HR pros, is to recognize where you need to focus your time when it comes to engagement. Not every company culture or development program is a fit for every employee, no matter the time spent or improvements made. So instead this year, I'm ensuring the time is spent focusing on all those who ARE engaged and grabbing on to every possible opportunity and even creating their own.
And for the employees in this instance, it’s not me, it’s you. Let's talk again if/when you are ready.
I’ll end on a positive with a few sentences from Seth Godin’s new book, “What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn)”. A MUST READ, by the way. It's working it's way around our office right now and I've ordered more copies!
“Being on the hook is a privilege. It means the people around us are trusting us to contribute, counting on us to deliver. It’s not something to be avoided.”
I hope you have the opportunity to be on the hook, to serve and make a difference today!
Kellee Webb, SHRM-SCP, SPHR