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The consistently poor execution of employee development processes is rooted in naïve optimism about how managers and employees will act.
There’s a yawning gap between the concept of employee development and its execution at most companies. Despite spending billions of dollars on development activities, companies have few tangible benefits to show from their investment. In fact only 23% of HR professionals rate development planning as being effective in their organization.
A key challenge is that HR leaders are somewhat delusional about how managers will approach development planning. We think they will set good development plans because we've given them resources and training. We've told them that experiences matter most, so we trust that they’ll use them as a key development tool. We assume that they believe there's a business case for developing employees.
Our assumptions about employees are equally unrealistic. We believe that the average employee can accurately guide his or her own development. We assume that they will use the expensive self-learning videos and other resources that we’ve provided. We think that they will diligently pursue the activities listed on their development plan.
These and other delusions guide how HR designs and executes employee development processes and are a primary reason for their limited success. Making development planning work requires that we more accurately assess what’s reasonable and make six changes in how we develop employees.