Employee Development: Capturing the Full Capacity of the Workforce

Human beings have some astonishing capabilities. Every time a human DNA molecule splits, it replicates 2 billion digits of code. This replication process happens 3 billion times a day. We are amazing creatures, designed with unimaginable capacities for creativity and innovation. Yet too many organizations see employee development as a simple expense item and fail. This attitude fails to capitalize on the essential value that every human being has in abundance, the basic capacities for creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, when employee development focuses solely on developing professional skills and ignores whole-person development, they miss the best parts. However, the highest performing organizations recognize that people are whole human beings with unimaginable capacity, and they seek daily to develop these capabilities.

How Often Employee Development Does Not Happen

It was an astounding admission from an institution of higher education. A first-time manager received an eight-hour course in management. It was virtually all focused on the HR rules surrounding sexual harassment and diversity training, how to fill out the various forms, and processes for hiring and firing. There was nothing that would ensure her success. Consequently, it is understandable why someone accused her of creating a toxic work environment.

Unfortunately, this is not an outlier. It is more often the norm. Reports that only 39% of all first-time managers receive any training, and fewer receive any mentoring or coaching. Furthermore, reports Harvard, Stanford, and the McKinsey Company indicate the leadership training fails to achieve any organizational return on the investment. One of the primary reasons is because entrenched institutionalized systems will not allow it.

The solution

During my research into how high-performing organizations approach leadership, I found that they first design a system, or a kind of organizational DNA. Part of these systems, is how every leader is trained to execute designed processes for employee development. However, this employee development is not just about developing professional skills. These high performing organizations have learned that to capture their employees’ full human capacity, they must tailor their training and coaching to the whole person. In this way, they capture the full breadth of human capacity and opportunity. This focus on developing the whole person is not a statement of morality. High performing organizations see something else, value. They see value in developing the whole person. When they create a healthier, more self-confident human being, they create a workforce of more value. This value is then transferred to and their customers. This new value comes along free of charge.

Innovating Leadership is a Requirement

However, there is a caveat. For an organization to implement employee development of the whole person, every leader and manager must know exactly how to do this. This means that leadership must be understood as a designed organizational system rather than a collection of lone individuals leading based on personal values. “My team, my way, my rules” is no longer a valid way of leading.

Dan Edds is the author of Leveraging the Genetics of Leadership, cracking the code of sustainable team performance. He can be reached for comment at Dan@DanielEdds.com, and he is happy to take a personal phone call at (425) 269-8854