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Learning Management: The Secret to Performance Development Driving Positive Business Outcomes

By Laurie Zaucha, Vice President of HROD, Paychex

Laurie Zaucha, Vice President of HROD, Paychex

I challenge you to step back and think about how you manage employee performance at your organization. How frequently are you evaluating employee performance? Are you still doing so annually or have you introduced a program that drives more frequent feedback? What do those performance conversations look like? Are they productive conversations that offer employees the tools and resources they need to improve performance and grow their careers? Is the process aligned to your business cycle and designed to drive business results?

Key to a successful performance process is aligning employee goals with the goals of the business, and then reviewing progress against those goals in a cadence that aligns with the business cycle. In addition, having clearly defined skills and competencies that enable high levels of performance will make it easier to focus on employee development in areas that drive the right business results.

Performance discussions should be the foundation of learning and career development. They’re opportunities to pause and reflect on the past, but more importantly, focus on the future. A mindset of ongoing performance development offers an opportunity for more timely feedback, along with greater efficiency, transparency, and alignment between employees, managers, and the business.

Creating a culture of ongoing employee development, rather than annual performance, means that both employees and managers enter feedback conversations with a growth mindset. Employees want to grow and develop their careers, and managers should focus on fostering business growth. Without a process for focusing on learning and development, such conversations run the risk of dying off regardless of their effectivity. Learning is the secret ingredient for enabling employee development that drives business outcomes.

Learning should be aligned with the direction of your business. Start by answering the question “what makes my business successful?” For example, a business that relies heavily on customer service will want to focus on learning on developing people and communication skills, problem-solving, and effectively navigating difficult interactions with customers. That’s a very different set of skills than a construction worker, or an accountant may need. It’s a critical first step for you to determine what sets of skills your learning tool will need to deliver the training needed to support the business.

Having an effective learning management system (LMS) will make developing skills and competencies in your employees much more efficient. Once you figure out the critical skills needed, the next step is to start vetting tools. Whether purchasing as standalone or expanding capabilities within your current HR system, integrating performance development and learning management technologies will enable ease-of-use, two-way communication, and the “just in time” learning employees and managers require today. Beyond that, it’s critical that the courses are vetted and tailored to meet your business needs – a “one-size-fits-all” LMS likely won’t drive the expected results.

The cycle starts with setting objectives and a regular cadence of performance development discussions while trying it all together. Each discussion should be a look back (what did the employee accomplish against their objectives last quarter?) and a look forward (what are the employee’s objectives the next quarter and what should their development focus be?). The development part of the discussion leads directly to the resources available in the LMS. A performance development process with a growth mindset is both a win for your employees and a win for your business.

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