In the World of Career Development, One-Size-Fits-All Is Dead

Career development remains front and center for job seekers and employers alike — candidates want it and companies want to offer it. However, not all career development strategies are created equal.

Glassdoor conducted a national survey to find the top 20 employee benefits and perks. Work tracking software company Asana received the single highest overall benefits rating of 4.9/5.0, thanks in part to the fact that it offers executive and life coaching services to their entire team.

Each person has individual professional development needs, and one-size-fits-all development training won’t cut it for the modern employee. Here’s why individualized career development is best for both employers and employees:

Blindspots Are Tough to Find

For training programs that involve more than one participant, instructors and facilitators may not have the time or focus to help each employee find their weaknesses or strengths. It’s difficult to make substantial growth when you don’t know where to start.

One-on-one engagement is where the value lies. Coaches can direct employees to meaningful, effective methods for developing the skills they want and improving the qualities they want to improve. They can be honest and clue their client in on things they don’t see. Those who participate in coaching are all focused on one major purpose — to be their best self.

A 2014 International Coach Federation (ICF) study found that 42 percent of individuals participated in a coaching relationship to optimize their individual and team work performance. Additionally, 33 percent wanted to expand their career opportunities, and 31 percent aimed to increase self-esteem and confidence.

Building a culture around coaching has many benefits. Most importantly, it focuses on the individual. Each employee gets a more engaging experience.

People Learn Differently

Training and development courses eat up a lot of time and energy from employees. They are very common, but fail to resonate with a lot of people.

An October 2015 survey conducted by West Unified Communication Services found that one-third of the 200 full time employees surveyed said current training programs aren’t productive, and another one-third said the material provided in sessions isn’t interesting or engaging.

Everyone has a preferred method of learning and retaining new information. Forcing a group of employees into a one-size-fits-all training program is bound to fail and leave some people behind. So what’s the answer?

Strategize and personalize career development for each employee to fit their unique learning style and to match a pace they are comfortable with. The West Unified Communication Services survey found that 47 percent of employees want to pursue training at their own pace, which is why a more personal, one-on-one training experience is the best method.

Regarding how employees prefer to consume content, they list live discussions and Q&A sessions as some of the most engaging methods. Coaching offers an environment meant for live discussion and thrives when the employee and coach engage in a dialogue. They can get to the bottom of what needs to be achieved and can help with one of the most important things — goal setting.

Goals Will Vary

Goals motivate people to grow, but not everyone shares the same vision. Coaches guide employees in defining specific, actionable goals that are usually unique to each person. Companies should make sure they align with the organizational goals and the vision they have for their talent, but they should also give employees freedom in setting their own goals.

If companies set unrealistic expectations, employees may be less efficient. A study from University at Buffalo School of Management found that even teams that had been successful in the past and had plenty of resources became less efficient after management set unrealistic expectations.

With personal coaches, employees can aim for goals that make sense to them and stay on task. What’s more, they are more likely to achieve their goals because they are held accountable to someone.

In 2015, 149 participants found in networking and business groups from the U.S. and Belgium, India, Japan, Australia, and England completed a Dominican University of California study. It found that more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to friends reported successful goal achievement, compared to just 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves without writing them down.

What’s the role of employers in the coach-employee relationship? They should make sure the goals being discussed align with the company goals. If they differ, ask employees about how they see their growth in the company. While you don’t want to force your own agenda on them, you do want to ensure they understand the coaching is meant to encourage their mobility within the company.

Employees like to know where they stand, and taking an interest in their career development shows that the company sees a future in which they can succeed and become a more integral part of operations. Employers should continually seek feedback and check each employee’s progress.

Development programs that involve multiple participants or that are delivered in the same way to each person leave a lot of people behind. The lack of intimacy and personalization holds employees back from making true progress. With personal coaches, employees are empowered to establish their own pace, set their own goals, and find the most effective, impactful way to learn to become their best selves.

How are you focusing on individualized career development?

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Image via Pixabay

About the author:

Rahul Taparia is the founder of MyWorkNinja, a business and life coach service that provides instant access to top ICF coaches without contracts, enabling professionals and entrepreneurs to bring their best work to the world. Follow MyWorkNinja on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.