Growth is a natural part of the human experience. Rather than ending at the transition from childhood to adulthood, growth is an intrinsic lifelong pursuit, something we seek in our individual endeavors, personal relationships, and professional lives.
In the context of the workplace, the opposite of growth is stagnation, boredom, and attrition. When workers are deprived of growth and learning opportunities, they become apathetic and unmotivated. Many will seek other employment opportunities that offer professional areas for growth and development.
This article specifically addresses the importance of creating and supporting areas for growth in the workplace, and covers the following sections.
People often use the terms “growth” and “development” interchangeably when addressing opportunities in the workplace. The fact is, however, that growth opportunities’ meaning is different from development opportunities.
So, what are growth opportunities and how is development different from growth? When you grow in a job, you rise in the organization. You move up a corporate ladder, reaping greater rewards as you take on more responsibility. For example, as a sales professional grows in their career they may move up the management hierarchy asserting greater leadership as they move to a position that contributes more strategically to defining and realizing the organization’s short and long-term new customer acquisition goals.
On the other hand, career development is an ongoing process of professional self-improvement. When you pursue career development, you work toward heightening your skills, increasing your knowledge, and solidifying professional relationships so you are poised for career growth. In other words, career development is a pathway to career growth.
When employers provide workers with opportunities for growth and development in the workplace, employees feel empowered and motivated to increase productivity and improve outcomes. In fact, the vast majority of today’s millennial workforce cite professional development opportunities as a major contributor to an inviting company culture.
A worker who knows that there are opportunities for professional improvement and internal growth is more likely to stay with a company, saving the organization from incurring the losses that accompany employee attrition and the expenses of onboarding and training new workers.
According to a Gallup survey, the cost of replacing an employee is as much as two times their annual salary. When workers don’t have opportunities for development and areas for growth, they are more likely to seek professional fulfillment elsewhere, negatively affecting a company’s bottom line.
Creating a company culture that supports professional development through mentoring programs, regular feedback, training opportunities, and leading by example can go a long way in supporting growth in the workplace.
The most successful management cultures recognize that today’s workers are attracted to environments that encourage success through cooperation and camaraderie. One of the best ways to foster this type of company culture is by creating a mentoring program where workers are matched with a member of management who takes on the role of coach and confidant, helping newer employees learn the skills necessary to achieve professional — and often personal — growth.
Too often, workers only receive feedback during scheduled formal reviews. Without continuous and frank feedback, employees cannot possibly gauge their performance or learn where their strengths and weaknesses lie in a way that they can leverage to make meaningful changes. Feedback — whether positive or negative — should always be encouraging, offering pathways to improvement.
Workers interested in areas of growth and development will often jump at the chance to further their education and skills. Make these opportunities accessible by providing in-house education opportunities or offering tuition reimbursement programs. Demonstrating this level of support
for workers’ pursuit of leadership growth opportunities fosters loyalty, enhances company culture, and increases retention rates.
Be willing to show a personal commitment to professional improvement by pursuing avenues of development to enhance your own growth as a leader and a mentor. When management provides a growth and development example, it goes a long way in building trust that the organization will support all levels of employees as they work to further their career growth.
Consider turning to an outside certified professional coach for assistance to find ways to improve employee development and growth opportunities in your organization. An unbiased third-party perspective can prove useful in managing a company’s culture, especially if there is any resistance to systemic change.
LeggUP’s mission is to help you attract, empower, and retain your workforce. We are experts in helping companies develop their next-generation of leaders with one-on-one coaching backed and amplified by our proprietary science. Learn more about what our personalized leadership development and professional coaching platform can do for your company!