Employee development is planned continuous learning

by Mascha Westen-Reinders Folmer, Reinders Folmer Consultancy, 19 March, 2021

In blog #3, I talked about Lean leadership and its 5 main components:

  • Improvement culture: Striving for perfection. Failure in order to improve and learn
  • Self-development: Lean leaders lead by example. New leadership abilities are vital
  • Employee development: Long-term education of employees. Continuous learning
  • Gemba: Shop floor management. First-hand knowledge as a basis for decision making
  • Hoshin Kanri: Customer focus. Aligned goals on all levels

Today I will elaborate on employee development. This is a long-term plan of continuous learning.

Continuous development of your employees leads to top teams

Long term employee development leads to top teams

Continuous improvement of processes and products is one of the key elements of the Lean philosophy. To reach this, most companies need a shift in thinking and doing and that is something you do not do overnight. It takes time and dedication for people to change their mindset, so if you want to go there you need to organise 3 things:

1. A continuous employee development approach

When you want to achieve a continuous improvement culture, you should extend that way of thinking to your employee development as well. This means you make a long term plan for the development of your employees, with the constant focus on what they need for a continuous improvement mindset and skillset. This is called ‘continuous employee development’

Continuous employee development is the idea that training and development does not include one-time, or even a series of, training events. Instead, employee development is carefully planned, carried out on a daily basis, and evaluated for effectiveness.

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It contains a mix of classroom trainings, learning by doing and on the job coaching by Lean leaders. When Lean leaders keep asking certain ‘continuous improvement’-questions over and over again, the employees will be inclined to prepare for them and thus start changing their way of looking at things and approaching things. Typical questions are:

  • How are things going?
  • What did you improve last period?
  • What will you improve coming period?

Structured approaches like day starts and Gemba walks are excellent opportunities to ask these kind of questions. Make sure you evaluate the progress and effectiveness on a regular basis and adjust where necessary. When all employees are aligned and grow in their continuous improvement mindset, they will also grow as a team.

2. An employee development plan

When you have your big picture clear, it is time to translate this to the individual employees in your organisation. Each person is in a different stage of their developement towards continuous improvement and in their career. That means ‘custom made’ plans per person to fit the stage they are in. Here you take both the growth to the continuous improvement way of working and to the potential future roles they could get into consideration.

 An employee development plan, sometimes called an employee growth plan, is a process for helping individuals improve skills for their current job and acquire knowledge and skills for new roles and responsibilities in an organization.

Ken Peterson – Bamboo HR

This results in an individual long term plan with focus on continuous improvement and the different ways of acquiring new knowledge and skills. On an individual basis you want to evaluate regularly, to be able to adjust and continually improve the learning journey as well.

3. The dedication, capacity and skills to carry it through

Making plans is great and an essential start, but to make things happen you need continuous focus, action and discipline. This means making time on a daily basis for coaching employees, on a monthly basis for evaluation of the progress and plans and on a quarterly basis for evaluating the long term goals and effectiveness. It also means committing to the development plan, instead of postponing training every time some operational issue happens. It’s better to use whatever happens as a learning opportunity.

Are you interested in continuous employee development, but are you not quite sure how or where to start? Feel free to contact me for more information.