Posted by & filed under Career Development, Employee Development.

Dear Suzanne,

3 Reasons Employee Development Takes a Back SeatI know that employee development is important, but it’s still difficult for our organization to give it priority, both in our time and fiscal budget. For the past five years we have been in “hair on fire” mode, always struggling to survive and make it to the next quarter. Now sales are better, the company has stabilized yet we still have the same panic mentality and desparate work atmosphere.

We haven’t returned to long-term career planning and employee development initiatives with our employees, especially star players. Honestly, many of them have experienced burnout from the recent tough times, and in the last year we’ve experienced a flight of our current and key leaders.

Why does employee development so often Take a back seat?

Doug, HR Training Manager, Boulder, Colorado


You make a good point, but the easy solution is right in front of us. Employers hesitate to invest in employees who may already have one foot out the door, and employees who lack career direction, mentoring and training leave at a higher rate. It is certainly a vicious circle.  Here are some reasons training sometimes takes a back seat:

  1. Let’s face it, many plans are made but not acted on. In recent years, complex matrices and evaluations have led to forcing employees into a “type” or category that may not fit. They also were time consuming and difficult to understand. Never fear. Now there are some basic and effective personality and work style assessments that are easy to administer and interpret. They also dovetail nicely into content-rich development programs.
  2. Many managers are still in the “hair on fire” mode, and can only focus on daily challenges. However, as you mentioned, many more of them no longer need to feel this way, but are having trouble getting back to normal. This is understandable. Still, panic mode is not a long-term business strategy. It’s time to get our organizations back on track, fostering employees and their career plans. This will lead to increased personal effectiveness, professionalism and productivity.
  3. Time constraints deter many HR professionals from pursuing employee development programs and integrating them into their organization. They say that it’s a priority, but also that they don’t have time for it. Here’s the bottom line: What we do is what our priorities are. Do you ever hear yourself telling someone that exercise is a priority for you, but you just don’t have time? The honest truth is that exercise isn’t actually a priority, if you’re not giving it the time it requires. Development planning just makes good sense by keeping employees focused and productive, and therefore the organization more productive (and more profitable) in general. 

Suzanne Updegraff, CEO, Employee Development Systems, Inc.

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Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) has been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years, and she is ready to tackle any question you have. 




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