Professional development is an important part of employee engagement. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. However, professional growth can look different for every member of your team. To one employee, professional growth might mean learning a new skill or trying something new, while another may define it as getting a promotion.
Here are some other ways employees might define professional development:
- Learning a new skill
- Improving existing skills
- Transferring teams
- Securing a promotion
- Deepening their industry knowledge
- Working on high-visibility projects
- Taking on more responsibilities
- Stepping into a leadership role
- Finding a mentor
In order to help your employees grow in a way that brings them closer to their professional goals, your managers need to ensure they know how each of their individual reports defines professional development. This can be more challenging with remote employees, so train your managers to have ongoing career development conversations with their teams to ensure they understand an employee’s end goal and how best to help them get there.
However, making sure your remote employees and managers are on the same page is just the first step. We’ve put together a list of four best practices your managers and organization can do to invest in professional development from afar.
1. Make Time to Talk
Talking about career development doesn’t always happen organically on a remote team. However, your managers shouldn’t wait for their employees to bring it up: it is their responsibility to bring up the topic of professional development with their direct reports.
To get started, encourage your managers to bring up professional development goals during weekly or bi-weekly 1-on-1 meetings. 1-on-1s should not solely be used to touch base on projects: managers should make the most out of these casual check-ins to talk broadly about your direct report’s career goals, give feedback, and check in on their morale.
To create the space for their direct reports to think and share, here are some of the most powerful questions to teach your managers to ask in 1-on-1 meetings:
- How are you really?
- What’s going particularly well?
- What are you challenged by?
- What’s something you’re doing now you’d like to do more of?
- What’s something you’re doing now you’d like to stop doing?
- What’s something you’re not doing now that you would like to start doing?
These conversations rarely, if ever, happen over email. Make sure your managers know to regularly set aside the time to discuss employees’ professional development goals, check-in on progress, and share feedback. Nor should these conversations only happen annually during performance reviews. Get your managers in the habit of touching on professional growth opportunities frequently so that your employees know your company is invested in their growth.
2. Know Your Resources
Oftentimes, employees don’t know what career growth opportunities and professional development programs are available to them at your company. As an L&D lead, it’s your job to ensure your managers are familiar with — and have access to — your company’s policies and programs, so they can better help your employees achieve their goals. You’ll want to remind your managers to push their teams to take advantage of all the resources your company offers and help jumpstart their career development.
For example, if you know your organization offers an annual professional growth stipend, a manager could encourage their direct report to use it to take an in-person or live online class to learn a new skill. Or, if your company has well-defined career ladders or career lattices, your people leaders can make their direct reports aware of the skills and experience needed to get a promotion or move to a new team. Transparency can help your managers establish an action plan to help employees progress in their careers and inspire them to keep moving forward towards their goal.
3. Invest in Online Learning
According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, learners of all generations feel more motivated to learn in a social environment and want courses personalized to their needs. Gen Z led the pack in each area, with 67% saying they prefer social and collaborative learning, and 80% saying they prefer personalized learning based on their career goals and skills gaps.
With a live online learning platform, like Hone, you can easily fulfill both of those requirements in one. Hone blends the best of expert-led small group training with a powerful behavior change platform. Your employees can learn on their own time with interactive live classes that work around their busy schedules and courses that interest them and help them get closer to their professional goals.
Hone has classes on the top skills today’s employees and managers need, like:
- Diversity and inclusion
- Building trust
- Adapting to change
- And more
But for many employees it can be hard to know where to start. In fact, 54% admitted they would spend more time learning if they had specific course recommendations to help them reach their career goals. At Hone, learners can choose from curated learning tracks, like Manager Essentials and Create a Culture of Belonging, to kickstart their learning journey and take the straightest path to their leadership and career goals.
4. Define Career Ladders
Once your teams reach a certain size — let’s say 5+ people per function — you’ll need to establish structure around growth opportunities.
To build a detailed career ladder frameworks for each of your company’s departments, you’ll want to outline experience and skill requirements for each job level, like:
- How many years of experience is required or suggested
- Which skills and competencies are required
- The level of ownership over project progress and results
- The strategic involvement and planning required
- The scope of influence across teams
This lets everyone on your team – individual contributors and managers alike – understand how their careers can progress through the organization. Career ladders also help your employees identify any skill or experience gaps they might have, and help motivate them to broaden their skills set in order to qualify for a promotion or job change.
Once your HR team has created your career ladder or lattice, have managers share the plan with their remote team. This can help guide their professional development conversations with direct reports and help your employees to stay motivated and steadily build the skills they need to secure a career transition.
Employee development should be top of mind for all companies, regardless of whether their employees are in the office or working from home. That said, having a distributed workforce means you need a scalable L&D solution that can help your employees grow from wherever they’re located.
Sign up for a free 30-day free trial of Hone and get access for you and your team to our live online leadership classes. Or, speak to a member of our team to learn more about creating a customized learning plan for your organization.