Maybe It’s Lucky, but It’s Probably Learning
Every company has its stars. You know the ones. They’re the employees who excel at almost everything they do. Their projects are a success, they seem to have a good instinct for the industry, and people — customers and co-workers alike — love to work with them.
They’re rare — they may seem almost like magical creatures! But these employees are not leprechauns leading you to a pot of enchanted gold. They’re good employees whose skills have been well developed — by workplace training, coaching and mentorship.
This article will take a closer look at what makes a good employee, workforce engagement and how companies can create great employees through investing in their employees’ learning and development. In other words, how you can make your own luck with learning.
What does a model employee look like?
While there’s no single perfect response to the above question, I’m willing to bet that most companies will give an answer that looks roughly like this:
A good employee should have:
- Good job skills: They should know the specific tasks associated with their job description and be able to perform them well
- Good people skills: They should be polite and pleasant to their co-workers, customers, and other business partners. They should be team players.
- Creative problem solving skills: They should be innovators
- Other soft skills: They should come in on time, meet deadlines, and otherwise behave professionally.
While you may think that only the first item on that list counts as a skill, that’s not the case. Soft skills, like creative thinking, or time management — are skills, too, and they’re starting to be recognized more by companies who are seeking them in job applicants.
Case in point: LinkedIn finds that the top five soft skills sought by companies in 2020 are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence.
But you don’t have to hire for these skills. You can also train for these skills, just as you can train for job specific skills, like sales or providing a good customer experience.
How can you develop good employees?
Finding the perfect employee in a stack of resumes is a lot like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — it’s very difficult and you might not even be possible.
Training the perfect employee? That’s another story. There are several ways to provide development opportunities for employees so that they skew closer to the profile of your ideal worker.
- Foster a culture of continuous improvement. Employees appreciate it when they know they’re valued. Most people do. By offering employees a chance to continuously develop themselves and their skills, you’ll engage them at work, and make them better, happier employees. It’s also better for your bottom line. According to Gallup, organizations that make a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees — which is important when it comes to both saving money and keeping institutional knowledge in-house.
- Include job skills and people skills in your training program. It’s important for your employees to understand their jobs, but it’s just as important for them to understand how to work with others. By teaching them valuable people skills, you’ll be doing them a favor, because they’ll have an easier time working with others in the future. (You’ll also be doing yourself and your other employees a favor, because you all have to work together.)
- Be sure to offer remote and mobile training. Not all your people work in the office (and sometimes, as we all now know, people can’t come in for work). Make sure there’s an option for training so your people are getting trained no matter what they do and where they are.
- Coach and mentor your employees. Training goes beyond modules. Gallup finds that in the highest-performing workplaces, managers are highly involved in the employees’ development. Rather than acting as bosses, they act as coaches, offering specific feedback and encouraging their employees’ natural talents.
Creating your own lucky learners
As you can see, it’s not luck – it’s just good learning strategy, hard work, and dedication to getting the best out of your team.
You may have one magical employee in your department right now. But you probably have several other employees who’ve got that magic inside them, waiting to be developed.