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How do I cater for individual differences through an employee development strategy


Our co doesn’t have an employee development strategy as such but I have been asked to find out how to cater for individual differences once it is up and running
Donna Westlake

7 Responses

  1. Skills Matrices
    I am with Alan Williams on this. I help companies with these issues and to my mind the greatest success has come when the company has implemented a skills matrices to work from. I would recommend investing time in producing a break down of the business by department function i.e. sales function then by general skills areas such as presentation and customer facing skills then by the tasks to be carried out such as negotiate sale with customer.
    Give each task a unique ref codes so you can easily identify them. Then establish the skills, knowledge and outcomes plus any associated procedures plus ways in which you could assess an individual or groups competence.
    This assessment is a way of analysing the needs and measuring on going progress and even ROI.
    Along side this you have job descriptions and these will list the tasks associated with the job. Bear in mind that several different jobs may perform the same tasks, skills and knowledge so you can use the unique ref codes to cross ref these to any job.
    Its quite a bit of work but it will then help you identify what training you need and who should receive it. You are then getting training specific to the individual.
    Each course can then detail all the unique ref codes it is applicable to which makes it easier to select appropriate courses as a part of the learning program.
    The next stage is an LMS that will provide the staff with a stipulated learning path. In addition you could offer self-selectable learning paths depending on their individual interests and career direction. You could even indicate against each course what career path they support
    Sorry I can’t explain it more here.
    Good Luck
    Duncan Souster

  2. Training Needs – Job Descriptions
    I have 25 years experience in this whole area, in both established and new oil refineries and in oil downstream marketing organizations in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand.

    I’m convinced that the start point should be an organization wide training neeeds analysis. I’ve seen all sorts of complicated methodologies for conducting training needs analysis, which unnecessarily complicate this activity, often at unnecessary expense.

    My learned approach is by analysing the organization job descriptions, by positions, by job families, and by segmentation into groups of competencies: leadership, core, functional, academic, and any other which are needed in very specific industries.

    I suggest you use this as your macro road map.

    My belief is that depending only on development details on annual appraisals is really a band-aid appraoch, unless you have a macro, organization wide road map to check against..

    By the way, if the organization doesn’t have good job descriptions, then perhaps this is really the start point. Good (up to date) JDs are invaluable for a range of purposes.

  3. Assess the Gap
    I agree with all the comments above and based on alot of my work within Hewlett Packard your ultimate aim is to produce individual development plans which are reviewed regularly and owned by each person.

    Using a tool known as GAPS each manager must identify where each individual currently is regarding performance, preceptions etc. It then needs to be agreed with each individual where the performance levels should be to meet both short term business needs and long term career goals. The development plan then needs to be designed and creative activities/methodologys used to plug the gap.

    Please let me know if you require any further info regarding some of the work I have done both within HP and with other organisations.

    [email protected]

  4. Are you building up to a Personal Development Programme ?
    If you already have appraisals and training plans, are you considering this : an employee-driven strategy, where each employee produces and runs their own plan ? You might be able to implement a process where everyone creates a “Personal Development Plan” – and naturally this caters for individual differences.

    This is a major programme and may not be appropriate for all organisations. In a nutshell, each person works out what they have done (a CV), what they enjoy doing & what they don’t enjoy doing(likes & dislikes). Then the fun starts – picture what you want to be doing in five years time. The hard part is to connect “my ideal role” with “roles that exist in this organisation” – it takes a lot of work to capture this information. The Personal Plan comes by working out “what do I need to do to get from where I am today to where I want to be in five years”. All of this summarises about one man-year of consultancy effort – are you prepared for that ?

    I have seen this work well in a firm with highly skilled & self-motivated staff, where we already had a process for career appraisal and training plans.

    It certainly took a lot of effort – it was a programme to introduce this Personal Development Plan – but when we rolled it out everybody felt it was really useful. The effort saving though is that you make people manage their own plan – there is no need for a database of who did what – once the material is available for people to use and you roll it out there is little admin needed.

  5. I am currently doing the same

    I agree with both replies below. Initially I would suggest that you carry out a full training needs analysis, identify what your business objectives are, then determine what skills you need to meet those objectives. Once this is done you can then determine what your current skill sets and levels are. This will then highlight any deficits and hence training ares. It is my opinion ( for what it is worth ) that business needs, although vital must be considered along side personal ones. Don’t forget to give them some ‘feelgood’ training as well

    I am currently going through this in our organisation too. Contact me if you wish, I may be able to offer some advice. 01753 756 700

  6. Identification of development needs
    Donna, your question leads to lots more questions about how you plan to identify development needs – will this be at appraisal, and/or through Personal Development Plans? Do you need to carry out a Training Needs Analysis?
    Is the organisation planning a strategy that offers development in any area an employee wishes to develop, or will development be available if there is a business need. You can’t plan for meeting the needs unless you have some idea of what those needs are. Once you have an idea about needs you can move onto thinking about the wide range of options/methods to meet these and how you deal with the individual differences. There are many, many ways – but it all starts with identification and clarification on the scope of the employee development strategy. If you want to talk about this further do email me – or ring 01772 679950.

  7. Catering for differences
    Hi Donna,

    If you provide different Development Modules, different Methods, all freely available, then each employee should be able to match his/her Development Profile/Needs/Preferences to the available support. It does however work out to be a lot of Admin. You would need (IMHO) some sort of questionnaire and database, so that the users could find what you have made available.
    My last employers invested a lot of time & money into providing such a database & tracking system, but (during the time I was still involved) it never got the attention it deserved.

    If you contact me directly, I’ll try to fill in some detail.


    Dave Bramwell
    Learning Experiences

    [email protected]

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