Posts tagged Employee Development
3 ways to ensure you frustrate and disengage your employees

What’s the sure fire way to frustrate and disengage your employees?

  1. Don’t tell them what they need to do to be successful

  2. Don’t give them the ability to see if they have the skills to accomplish what they need to do

  3. Don’t give them the opportunity to close skill gaps 

In the Deloitte study on Human Capital Trends[1], skill gaps and employee engagement problems are at the top of mind of 87% of the leaders in HR and executive management. Only 14% of L&D leaders believe business leaders view them as strategic partners, with 52% seen as mediocre partners or worse. This is because the skills gap crisis and employee disengagement continue to grow, and leadership doesn’t see Learning & Development as the solution. (Read more in this white paper)

Want to ensure that your business leaders DON’T view you as a strategic partner? Follow these 3 steps.


1) Don’t tell them what they need to be successful

A role-based competency model describes what it looks like to be great in each role. It defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy. It’s a roadmap to be great. And it’s never been more important than with the speed of change, the impact of digitization and artificial intelligence on jobs, and the scarcity of good talent. If you don’t want to tell your employees what they need to be successful, don’t create and use a competency model for each role.


2) Don’t give them the ability to see if they have the skills to accomplish what they need to do

To make competency modeling actionable, you need to enable people in that role to self-assess against it and identify skills gaps relative to their work. If you don’t want to give your employees the ability to see if they have the skills required for their role, and you don’t want to intrinsically motivate them to bridge their skill gaps, don’t enable them to perform a skills assessment with a skills assessment system/competency assessment system.


3) Don’t give them the opportunity to close skill gaps

After people have performed a skills assessment for their job and know what specific skill gaps they have, you need to automate the identification of competency-based learning relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning. This eliminates guesswork. It accelerates learning transfer. It drives behavior change. It creates a culture of learning and learning agility that experts say is the key to sustainable competitive advantage. If you don’t want to give your employees the opportunity to close their job skill gaps, don’t provide a personalized learning plan. Just hope that their managers can coach them up.


[1] Bersin by Deloitte. (2015).  Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning

Also found on LInkedIn and ATD


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How do we motivate employees to take charge of their development?

This is an easier question than you might think.

Stop pushing!

Stop pushing.png

What I mean is, stop doing training TO them. Stop dragging people to what you think they should do.

They then have 2 choices:

1)      Own their development, focusing on what they want and need, with the tools they have for doing it.

2)      Or fall behind. Falling behind means they will not only get passed by for promotions, they will likely have trouble keeping their current job if they don’t have the skills (which are probably changing) and can’t keep up. And that job they have now? Well, it may simply cease to exist in its current form.

 According to Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle-Giulioni:

“Learning agility is the new job security. Employees who want to own their development and drive it in a desirable direction need to shift their attention toward enhancing employability with key skills, capabilities, and experiences. They must look around the corner to anticipate changing needs.”

An increasing number of employees in your organization already get it. They want to own their development and you need to make it easier for them to do so. More on that in a moment.

For those who don’t have motivation today, leverage the power of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, which research shows is more effective at driving action then sharing positive benefits.

The Institute for the Future says that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't yet been invented. Guess what? That means that jobs that do exist today will be replaced by those new jobs. And it won’t take until 2030 to happen. It’s happening now.

Employees either want to grow, or they don’t. But if they personally don’t take steps to continue to learn and grow, someone else will. And they will find themselves unemployable on the other side of the divide.

You can’t change the motivation of a complacent employee. Only they can do that. But if everyone around them becomes more engaged and learning new things, and having better conversations with their manager, and getting new challenges or even new positions, and they’re not… well, maybe that will change their intrinsic motivation.

If they are close to retirement, and they lack the motivation to learn something new, make them a lead player in knowledge transfer. Make them a task-based mentor to others. Have others shadow them. Have them shadow others and provide feedback.

Let them pull

start pulling.png

 If you want employees to develop with the best activities, you need to make it easy for them to get those activities. Some people know their skill gaps or believe they do. Most do not. Even when they believe they do, there is no consistency in expectations from person to person, or a way of getting them to know what’s changing. 

Self-awareness drives intrinsic motivation to change

Start with a role-based competency assessment for their job (which includes new/changing skills) to let them identify the full scope of requirements for their role and compare themselves to it. Be sure you don’t stop at WHAT they need to do… you must also show them HOW they need to be able to do the WHAT.  That is, provide behavioral examples at each level of proficiency so people can consistency and objectively compare how they do things to best practices and find out where they really stand. Then present them with their results: their skill gaps and strengths. You need them to leverage both.

Keep in mind, skill gaps are not the same as weaknesses that you may choose to ignore.

In a role-based competency model, a skill gap is something you have to do in your job.

So if you can’t do it, you MUST learn. 

Personalized learning facilitates action

 As much as role-based content curation and Netflix style recommendations (“others like you watch this video”) are all the rage, it’s not necessarily the right content for a specific person. By connecting people’s skill gaps to specific learning options tailored to them in their role, you’re enabling them to self-direct efficiently.

“I don’t have time for learning” is the most common excuse for lack of action. Overcome it with informal learning so they can learn in the flow of work.

If the only learning options you offer are formal learning, including eLearning, you’re going to lose a lot of people who don’t respond to it. If you want to motivate employees to own their development, help them learn while doing the thing they need to do.

Sustain motivation

Sustain motivation.png

Getting them motivated is not enough. You need to make learning a habit to create a culture of learning. That takes specific communication to ensure learning is operationalized, for example, a part of the regular employee/manager conversation. But that’s a deeper conversation for a different day.

In summary, to motivate employees to take charge of their development, stop pushing… get them pulling. Help everyone understand the learning imperative. And make it easy for them to know what to pull and why to pull it.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How to convince leaders to use competency models to create a culture of learning

To convince leaders to use competency models to create a culture of learning, you need them to tell the story of skill gaps and engagement.  Today, it would be hard for a leader not to recognize that both are challenges they face.  Competency models can fix them both. 

Skill gaps

Ask leaders, “How do you know if people have the skills they need to do their jobs?  You know we have skill gaps.  How do you know where they are?”

In order to know what skill gaps exist and to be able to measure improvement, you need a baseline.  A competency assessment with a role-based competency model will give that to you.


Research from Deloitte shows there is a new social contract between employees and employers which you can summarize like this: 

  • You agree to develop me and help me grow

  • I agree to be engaged while I’m here, and put my mastery toward achieving your goals

 Don’t do the first, and I won’t do the second.

To successfully develop them and help them grow at scale, you need people to own their own development and career planning.  Competency models tied to personalized learning enable organizations to shift from training to learning.

  • Training is an event, something you do to people.

  • Learning is a continuous process, something people do for themselves.

 Similar to getting a skill gap baseline, you also need an engagement baseline in the form of engagement survey metrics, attrition rates, and exit interview results.

Next, you’ll need to identify the costs associated with not closing skill gaps, and not fixing the engagement problem.  What you want to do is show them that the cost of doing nothing, (e.g., the cost of replacing people, the impact on creativity and innovation, and what turnover does to competitive advantage), far outweighs the costs of trying something different.  This is the business case you’ll use to influence them.

Want to learn more about how to create a business case for influencing leaders to embrace a culture of learning?  Join us for a free ATD Webcast, “Create A Culture Of Learning That Supports The Speed Of Business” on August 21, at 1pm US ET.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
GASP! I just created learning that doesn’t transfer and they can’t get up!

If you create learning that doesn’t transfer, then you too will keep your target audience from “getting up” in skills and business results. By that I mean, no addressing skill gaps, and no improving results.

Why employee disengagement occurs

In a Deloitte study[1], less than 25% of Line Managers believed their Learning & Development (L&D) departments were critical to achieving their business goals. That is not surprising given related findings on learner disengagement. It is cause and effect.

If the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job and their needs, they will be disengaged in any learning.

--> If the employee is disengaged in the learning process, then L&D efforts are mitigated – any learning opportunities will have minimal effect.

--> If minimal effect occurs, then skill levels do not improve.

--> If there are no skill level improvements, then business results do not improve.

--> If employees participate in training programs, and positive business results do not follow, then Line Managers are likely to lose faith in the ability of L&D to contribute.

Why does this happen?  It’s a likely scenario when you don’t know what skills people need. You can know you have a skill gap crisis, but if you don’t know what job skills they need, how can you possibly help them develop the right skills?  How can you create content that is relevant to their job?

Even if you know what skills they need, but you can’t measure skill gaps (you don’t actually know where skill gaps exist and have no supporting data), then how can you measure whether skills and business results improve?  That is, how can you measure that the programs you’re providing are closing skills gaps and driving results?

Resolving learner disengagement step 1: Create competency models

First, you create a role-based competency model, which defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  In other words, the competency modeling connects skills and strategy.  A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in that role.

Step 2: Create competency-based learning

Next, you develop competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  This is where the learning objectives of activities are tied to the specific competency model skills and behaviors. 

Creating competency-based learning ensures the content is relevant to their job.  But remember that if the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job AND relevant to their needs, they will be disengaged.  We’ve solved the first problem, now we have to solve the second.

Step 3: Provide competency assessment tools

In order to make content relevant to each person’s needs, you need to enable them to perform a competency assessment in order to identify their specific skill gaps.  And you need to automate the identification of content relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning. 

If you develop competency-based learning and enable personalized learning, you will drive learner engagement and accelerate learning transfer.  And if you’ve got a good competency model, then it will positively impact skills and business results.

What’s more, the aggregated skills data combined with business results over time will let you measure the impact of learning.


If you ensure that you only create competency-based learning for a role, you will never again create learning that doesn’t transfer.  If you use a competency assessment tool that personalizes learning for each person, you will maximize learner engagement, accelerate learning transfer, and you WILL be able to measure the positive impact on skills and business results.

[1] Bersin by Deloitte. (2015).  Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning.

Also found on LinkedIn.



News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Access ATD Conference 2019 session downloads

Thank you for coming to the ATD Conference sessions: "How to Accelerate Learning Transfer Through Competency-Based Learning" and “No Time For Learning? Use Informal Learning Instead”.

Click here for Competency-Based Learning materials  

Click here for Informal Learning materials

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector