Solution #2 for Finding Good Employees: Train Your Current Employees

April 7, 2014 10:34 am Published by

In a prior post on the challenges employers are having in finding qualified applicants for the positions they need to fill, I shared that there are three strategies that, over time, can help employers and managers address this problem.  The first solution is to keep your valued employees by making sure they feel appreciated.

The second way to fill empty slots in your organization is to train and mentor current employees who have potential but who need to grow. We often have employees who are “okay” but who have an area of deficiency or a character quality they need to grow in and develop.  Generally, it is easier and more efficient to fill a position within an organization from within — the person already has knowledge of the goods or services you provide, as well as an understanding of the organization.

Let me make this clear, however:  it is far easier to train people in skills, knowledge they lack, or technical expertise than it is to help a person change a character quality.  So look for “good people” — those people in your organization that are dependable, have integrity and willing to learn — and then investigate whether they are willing (and able) to put forth the time and effort to “upgrade” their skill set, so they can move into a more responsible position.

There are three critical elements that need to be present for employees to be willing to take the risk of trying to grow themselves into a new position at work:

  1. Hope.  They need to understand that there is a realistic possibility for them to move up in the organization.  You can’t (or shouldn’t) make promises, but without true belief that this opportunity is a viable opportunity, they won’t take the risk.
  2. Self-belief.  Many people don’t step out and take risks because they are not sure they can do what is asked from them.  The academic word for this is “self-efficacy” — the belief that you can succeed in the task.  A way to help people believe in themselves is to give them small tasks to accomplish that help them down the path you desire for them (e.g. take an online course, oversee a small project).
  3. Trust.  For an employee to agree to work on an area of growth, they need to know that you  value them and that you are “on their side”.  The best, and easiest, way for this to happen is for you to consistently communicate encouragement and appreciation for who they are and what they do.  We all are more willing to accept corrective feedback when it is given in the context of a positive supportive relation.

It is important to make sure the employee has a sense of your valuing them, before you propose a plan for them. Work on encouraging and showing appreciation in those areas which are their strengths; also cast the vision for them growing and stepping up into more responsibility in the organization. After a period of time (at least, some weeks), ask them if they would be willing to hear some ideas you have on what they could do to make it more likely for them to be seen as a candidate for moving up in the organization. But make sure they first know that you value who they are and the good things they currently do in their position.

I would bet a fair amount of money that you have quality people in your organization that you can train in the skills set needed to fill some of your difficult-to-fill positions!  (Be sure and ask your managers and supervisors if they have any ideas, too.)



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April 7, 2014 10:34 am

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