hr chapter 9 Developing Employees for Future Success
Organizations and their employees must constantly expand their knowledge, skills,
and behavior to meet customer needs and compete in today’s demanding and rapidly
changing business environment. More and more companies operate internationally,
requiring that employees understand different cultures and customs. More companies
organize work in terms of projects or customers, rather than specialized functions, so
employees need to acquire a broad range of technical and interpersonal skills. Many
companies expect employees at all levels to perform roles once reserved for management.
Modern organizations are expected to provide development opportunities to
employees without regard to their sex, race, ethnic background, or age so that they
have equal opportunity for advancement. In this climate, organizations are placing
greater emphasis on training and development. To do this, organizations must understand
development’s relationship to training and career management.
• The definition of development indicates that it is future oriented. Development
implies learning that is not necessarily related to the employee’s current job.
Instead, it prepares employees for other jobs or positions in the organization and
increases their ability to move into jobs that may not yet exist.
• Development also
may help employees prepare for changes in responsibilities and requirements in
their current jobs, such as changes resulting from new technology, work designs, or
In contrast, training traditionally focuses on helping employees improve performance
of their current jobs. Many organizations have focused on linking training
programs to business goals. In these organizations, the distinction between training
and development is more blurred. Table 9.1 summarizes the traditional differences
The combination of
abilities to help
for the future of their
As organizations provide for employee development (and as employees take control
of their own careers), they will need to (
The concept of a career has changed in recent years. In the traditional view, a career
consists of a sequence of positions within an occupation or organization.
an academic career might begin with a position as a university’s adjunct professor. It
continues with appointment to faculty positions as assistant professor, then associate
professor, and finally full professor. An engineer might start as a staff engineer, then
with greater experience earn promotions to the positions of advisory engineer, senior
engineer, and vice president of engineering.
In these examples, the career resembles a
set of stairs from the bottom of a profession or organization to the top.
Recently, however, changes such as downsizing and restructuring have become the
norm, so the concept of a career has become more fluid. Today’s employees are more likely to have a protean career, one that frequently changes based on changes in
the person’s interests, abilities, and values and in the work environment.
A career that
based on changes in
the person’s interests,
abilities, and values
and in the work
an engineer might decide to take a sabbatical from her job to become a manager with
Engineers without Borders, so she can develop managerial skills and decide whether
she likes managing. As in this example, employees in protean careers take responsibility
for managing their careers. This practice is consistent with the modern psychological
contract described in Chapter 2. Employees look for organizations to provide, not
job security and a career ladder to climb, but instead development opportunities and
flexible work arrangements.
To remain marketable, employees must continually develop new skills. Fewer of
today’s careers involve repetitive tasks, and more rely on an expanding base of knowledge.
Jobs are less likely to last a lifetime, so employees have to prepare for newly
created positions. Beyond knowing job requirements, employees need to understand
the business in which they are working and be able to cultivate valuable relationships
with co-workers, managers, suppliers, and customers. They also need to follow trends
in their field and industry, so they can apply technology and knowledge that will
match emerging priorities and needs. Learning such skills requires useful job experiences
as well as effective training programs.
These relationships and experiences often take an employee along a career path
that is far different from the traditional steps upward through an organization or profession.
Although such careers will not disappear, more employees will follow a spiral
career path in which they cross the boundaries between specialties and organizations.
As organizations provide for employee development (and as employees take control
of their own careers), they will need to (
1) determine their interests, skills, and weaknesses
2) seek development experiences involving jobs, relationships, and formal
courses. As discussed later in the chapter, organizations can meet these needs through
a system for career management or development planning. Career management helps
employees select development activities that prepare them to meet their career goals. It
helps employers select development activities in line with their human resource needs.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a medical organization specializing in pediatric care,
focuses development efforts on high-performing employees who have the potential to
become managers. These employees complete a full day of assessment that includes
taking a personality test and participating in a business simulation in which they take
the role of managers. Each year they also attend five workshops, where they learn
about leading change, developing a business strategy, and creating a personal vision.
They work in teams to solve a practical problem affecting Children’s, and they receive
coaching to help them set and achieve their own goals.
The many approaches to employee development fall into four broad categories:
formal education, assessment, job experiences, and interpersonal relationships.
Figure 9.1 summarizes these four methods. Many organizations combine these
approaches, as in the previous example of Children’s Healthcare.
Organizations may support employee development through a variety of formal educational
programs, either at the workplace or off-site. These may include workshops
designed specifically for the organization’s employees, short courses offered by consultants or universities, university programs
offered to employees who live on campus
during the program, and executive MBA
programs (which enroll managers to meet on
weekends or evenings to earn a master’s degree
in business administration). These programs
may involve lectures by business experts, business
games and simulations, experiential programs,
and meetings with customers. Chapter 7
described most of these training methods,
including their pros and cons.
Many companies, including Bank of Montreal
and General Electric, operate training and
development centers that offer seminars and
longer-term programs. The Bank of Montreal
operates its own Institute for Learning, featuring
classrooms, a presentation hall, and guest
accommodations for out-of-town employees.
Programs include training in management leadership,
risk management, and project management,
as well as courses toward an MBA degree. 7
General Electric has one of the oldest and bestknown
management development centers, the
John F. Welch Leadership Center in Crotonville, New York. Each year, GE managers
choose employees with high performance and potential and send them to Crotonville
for management development programs combining coursework and job experiences. 8
Independent institutions offering executive education include Harvard, the
Wharton School of Business, the University of Michigan, and the Center for Creative
Leadership. A growing number of companies and universities are using distance
learning (discussed in Chapter 7) to reach executive audiences. For example,
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers an electronic executive MBA
program. Besides attending traditional classes, students use personal computers to
view lectures on CD-ROM, download study aids, discuss lectures, and work on team
Another trend in executive education is for employers and the education provider
to create short courses with content designed specifically for the audience. MetLife
worked with Babson College to develop a course in which faculty members discuss
business principles and then invite corporate executives to discuss how the principles
work in MetLife and the insurance industry. Small teams of class participants work on
related class projects and develop recommendations for company executives. MetLife
has implemented 82 percent of these projects.
Another way to provide for employee development is assessment —collecting information
and providing feedback to employees about their behavior, communication
style, or skills.
Information for assessment may come from the employees, their
peers, managers, and customers.
The most frequent uses of assessment are to identify
employees with managerial potential to measure current managers’ strengths and
Organizations also use assessment to identify managers with potential to move into higher-level executive positions.
that assign work to teams may use assessment
to identify the strengths and weaknesses of
individual team members and the effects of the
team members’ decision-making and communication
styles on the team’s productivity.
For assessment to support development, the
information must be shared with the employee
being assessed. Along with that assessment information,
the employee needs suggestions for correcting
skill weaknesses and for using skills already
learned. The suggestions might be to participate in
training courses or develop skills through new job
experiences. Based on the assessment information
and available development opportunities, employees
should develop action plans to guide their
efforts at self-improvement.
Organizations vary in the methods and sources
of information they use in developmental assessment
(see the ” Did You Know?” box). Many organizations
appraise performance. Organizations
with sophisticated development systems use psychological
tests to measure employees’ skills, personality
types, and communication styles. They may collect self, peer, and manager
ratings of employees’ behavior and style of working with others.
The tools used for
these assessment methods include
• the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, assessment centers,
the Benchmarks assessment, performance appraisal, and 360-degree feedback.
Edward Jones assesses the leadership potential of financial advisers working outside
its St. Louis headquarters by combining personality assessment with peer appraisals.
Employees and their managers receive the results, which are used to evaluate
whether employees have the behaviors and personality required for a leadership role
The most popular psychological inventory for employee development is the Myers-
Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)®. This assessment identifies individuals’ preferences
for source of energy, means of information gathering, way of decision making,
and lifestyle. The assessment consists of more than 100 questions about how the
person feels or prefers to behave in different situations (such as “Are you usually a
good ‘mixer’ or rather quiet and reserved?”). The assessment describes these individuals’
preferences in the four areas:
1. The energy dichotomy indicates where individuals gain interpersonal strength
and vitality, measured as their degree of introversion or extroversion. Extroverted
types (E) gain energy through interpersonal relationships. Introverted types (I)
gain energy by focusing on inner thoughts and feelings.
2. The information-gathering dichotomy relates to the preparations individuals make
before making decisions. Individuals with a Sensing (S) preference tend to gather
the facts and details to prepare for a decision. Intuitive types (N) tend to focus
less on the facts and more on possibilities and relationships among them.
3. In decision making, individuals differ in the amount of consideration they give to
their own and others’ values and feelings, as opposed to the hard facts of a situation.
Individuals with a Thinking (T) preference try always to be objective in
making decisions. Individuals with a Feeling (F) preference tend to evaluate the
impact of the alternatives on others, as well as their own feelings; they are more
4. The lifestyle dichotomy describes an individual’s tendency to be either flexible
or structured. Individuals with a Judging (J) preference focus on goals, establish
deadlines, and prefer to be conclusive. Individuals with a Perceiving (P) preference
enjoy surprises, are comfortable with changing a decision, and dislike
The alternatives for each of the four dichotomies result in 16 possible combinations.
Of course people are likely to be mixtures of these types, but the point of the
assessment is that certain types predominate in individuals.
As a result of their psychological types, people develop strengths and weaknesses.
For example, individuals who are Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging
(known as ISTJs) tend to be serious, quiet, practical, orderly, and logical. They can
organize tasks, be decisive, and follow through on plans and goals. But because they do
not have the opposite preferences (Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving), ISTJs have several weaknesses. They may have difficulty responding to unexpected
opportunities, appear to their colleagues to be too task-oriented or impersonal, and
make decisions too fast.
Applying this kind of information about employees’ preferences or tendencies
helps organizations understand the communication, motivation, teamwork, work
styles, and leadership of the people in their groups. For example, salespeople or executives
who want to communicate better can apply what they learn about their own
personality styles and the way other people perceive them. For team development,
the MBTI can help teams match team members with assignments based on their preferences
and thus improve problem solving. 12 The team could assign brainstorming
(idea-generating) tasks to employees with an Intuitive preference and evaluation of
the ideas to employees with a Sensing preference.
Research on the validity, reliability, and effectiveness of the MBTI is inconclusive.
13 People who take the MBTI find it a positive experience and say it helps them
change their behavior. However, MBTI scores are not necessarily stable over time.
Studies in which the MBTI was administered at two different times found that as few
as one-fourth of those who took the assessment were classified as exactly the same
type the second time. Still, the MBTI is a valuable tool for understanding communication
styles and the ways people prefer to interact with others. It is not appropriate
for measuring job performance, however, or as the only means of evaluating promotion
process in which
multiple raters or
performance on a
number of exercises,
usually as they work in
a group at an off-site
An assessment center
exercise in which a
team of five to seven
employees is assigned
a problem and must
work together to solve
it within a certain time
At an assessment center, multiple raters or evaluators (assessors) evaluate employees’
performance on a number of exercises. 14 An assessment center is usually an offsite
location such as a conference center. Usually 6 to 12 employees participate at one
time. The primary use of assessment centers is to identify whether employees have the
personality characteristics, administrative skills, and interpersonal skills needed for
managerial jobs. Organizations also use them to determine whether employees have
the skills needed for working in teams.
The types of exercises used in assessment centers include leaderless group discussions,
interviews, in-baskets, and role-plays. 15 In a leaderless group discussion, a
team of five to seven employees is assigned a problem and must work together to solve
it within a certain time period. The problem may involve buying and selling supplies,
nominating a subordinate for an award, or assembling a product. Interview questions
typically cover each employee’s work and personal experiences, skill strengths and
weaknesses, and career plans. In-basket exercises, discussed as a selection method in
Chapter 6, simulate the administrative tasks of a manager’s job, using a pile of documents
for the employee to handle. In role-plays, the participant takes the part of a
manager or employee in a situation involving the skills to be assessed. For example, a
participant might be given the role of a manager who must discuss performance problems
with an employee, played by someone who works for the assessment center. Other
exercises in assessment centers might include interest and aptitude tests to evaluate
an employee’s vocabulary, general mental ability, and reasoning skills. Personality tests
may be used to determine employees’ ability to get along with others, tolerance for
uncertainty, and other traits related to success as a manager or team member.
The assessors are usually managers who have been trained to look for employee
behaviors that are related to the skills being assessed. Typically, each assessor observes
and records one or two employees’ behaviors in each exercise. The assessors review
their notes and rate each employee’s level of skills (for example, 5 = high level of
leadership skills, 1 = low level of leadership skills). After all the employees have completed
the exercises, the assessors discuss their observations of each employee. They
compare their ratings and try to agree on each employee’s rating for each of the skills.
As we mentioned in Chapter 6, research suggests that assessment center ratings are
valid for predicting performance, salary level, and career advancement. 16 Assessment
centers may also be useful for development because of the feedback that participants
receive about their attitudes, skill strengths, and weaknesses
A measurement tool
that gathers ratings
of a manager’s use of
skills associated with
success in managing.
A development method that focuses on measuring management skills is an instrument
called Benchmarks. This measurement tool gathers ratings of a manager’s use
of skills associated with success in managing. The items measured by Benchmarks
are based on research into the lessons that executives learn in critical events of their
careers. 18 Items measure the 16 skills and perspectives listed in Table 9.2 , including
how well managers deal with subordinates, acquire resources, and create a productive
work climate. Research has found that managers who have these skills are more
likely to receive positive performance evaluations, be considered promotable, and be
To provide a complete picture of managers’ skills, the managers’ supervisors, their
peers, and the managers themselves all complete the instrument. The results include a summary report, which the organization provides to the manager so he or she can
see the self-ratings in comparison to the ratings by others. Also available with this
method is a development guide containing examples of experiences that enhance
each skill and ways successful managers use the skill
performance appraisal is the process of measuring employees’
performance. This information can be useful for employee development under
certain conditions. The appraisal system must tell employees specifically about their
performance problems and ways to improve their performance. Employees must gain
a clear understanding of the differences between current performance and expected
performance. The appraisal process must identify causes of the performance discrepancy
and develop plans for improving performance. Managers must be trained to
deliver frequent performance feedback and must monitor employees’ progress in carrying
out their action plans.
A recent trend in performance appraisals,
, is 360-degreefeedback —performance measurement by the employee’s supervisor, peers, employees, and customers.
Often the feedback involves rating the individual in terms of work-related behaviors. For development purposes, the rater would identify an area
of behavior as a strength of that employee or an area requiring further development.
The results presented to the employee show how he or she was rated on each item and
how self-evaluations differ from other raters’ evaluations. The individual reviews the
results, seeks clarification from the raters, and sets specific development goals based
on the strengths and weaknesses identified.
In an interesting twist on commonly held beliefs about personal development,
Tom Rath and Barrie Conchie of the Gallup Organization studied business leaders
and concluded that correcting weaknesses does not make an individual a great
leader. Rather, they advocate using assessment information to identify personal
strengths, then further developing and building those strengths to become a more
effective leader. They note that Brad Anderson of Best Buy, Wendy Kopp of Teach for
America, Simon Cooper of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and Mervyn Davies
of Standard Chartered Bank are all excellent leaders who rely on different talents
to lead. Extending that idea, Rath and Couchie recommend that managers learn to
identify and focus on their employees’ strengths as a way to help them become more
effective. Rather than building well-rounded leaders, this application of assessment
information aims to build well-rounded teams of individuals who together possess
strengths related to executing plans, influencing others, building relationships, and
thinking strategically. 22
There are several benefits of 360-degree feedback. Organizations collect multiple
perspectives of managers’ performance, allowing employees to compare their own personal
evaluations with the views of others. This method also establishes formal communications
about behaviors and skill ratings between employees and their internal
and external customers. Several studies have shown that performance improves and
behavior changes as a result of participating in upward feedback and 360-degree feedback
systems. 23 The change is greatest in people who received lower ratings from others
than what they gave themselves. The 360-degree feedback system is most likely
to be effective if the rating instrument enables reliable or consistent ratings, assesses
behaviors or skills that are job related, and is easy to use. And in an analysis of the
impact of 360-degree feedback on leadership, the assessments were most beneficial
if the leaders were coached on how to build on the strengths that were identified
There are potential limitations of 360-degree feedback. This method demands a
significant amount of time for raters to complete the evaluations. If raters, especially
subordinates or peers, provide negative feedback, some managers might try to identify
and punish them. A facilitator is needed to help interpret results. Finally, simply
delivering ratings to a manager does not provide ways for the manager to act
on the feedback (for example, development planning, meeting with raters, or taking
courses). As noted earlier, any form of assessment should be accompanied by suggestions
for improvement and development of an action plan.
tasks, and other
features of an
Most employee development occurs through job experiences 25 —the combination
of relationships, problems, demands, tasks, and other features of an employee’s jobs.
Using job experiences for employee development assumes that development is most likely to occur when the employee’s skills and experiences do not entirely match the
skills required for the employee’s current job.
To succeed, employees must stretch
their skills. In other words, they must learn new skills, apply their skills and knowledge
in new ways, and master new experiences. 26 For example, companies that want
to prepare employees to expand overseas markets are assigning them to a variety of
To learn how a small company successfully uses job experiences to
develop employees, see the “Best Practices” box.
Most of what we know about development through job experiences comes from
a series of studies conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership. 27 These studies
asked executives to identify key career events that made a difference in their managerial
styles and the lessons they learned from these experiences. The key events
included job assignments (such as fixing a failed operation), interpersonal relationships
(getting along with supervisors), and types of transitions (situations in which
the manager at first lacked the necessary background). Through job experiences like
these, managers learn how to handle common challenges, prove themselves, lead
change, handle pressure, and influence others.
The usefulness of job experiences for employee development varies depending on
whether the employee views the experiences as positive or negative sources of stress.
When employees view job experiences as positive stressors, the experiences challenge
them and stimulate learning. When they view job experiences as negative stressors,
employees may suffer from high levels of harmful stress. Of the job demands studied,
managers were most likely to experience negative stress from creating change and
overcoming obstacles (adverse business conditions, lack of management support, lack
of personal support, or a difficult boss). Research suggests that all of the job demands
except obstacles are related to learning. 28 Organizations should offer job experiences
that are most likely to increase learning, and they should consider the consequences
of situations that involve negative stress.
Although the research on development through job experiences has focused on
managers, line employees also can learn through job experiences. Organizations may,
for example, use job experiences to develop skills needed for teamwork, including
conflict resolution, data analysis, and customer service. These experiences may occur
when forming a team and when employees switch roles within a team.
Various job assignments can provide for employee development. The organization
may enlarge the employee’s current job or move the employee to different jobs. Lateral
moves include job rotation, transfer, or temporary assignment to another organization.
The organization may also use downward moves or promotions as a source of
job experience. Figure 9.2 summarizes these alternatives.
As Chapter 4 stated in the context of job design, job enlargement involves adding challenges
or new responsibilities to employees’ current jobs. Examples include completing
a special project, switching roles within a work team, or researching new ways to
serve customers. An engineering employee might join a task force developing new
career paths for technical employees. The work on the project could give the engineer
a leadership role through which the engineer learns about the company’s career
development system while also practicing leadership skills to help the task force reach
its goals. In this way, job enlargement not only makes a job more interesting but also
creates an opportunity for employees to develop new skills.
Another job design technique that can be applied to employee development is job
rotation, moving employees through a series of job assignments in one or more functional
areas. The job rotation program for Tata Consultancy Services sends employees
from its headquarters in India on 18- to 24-month assignments to its operations
in China, Hungary, and South America. The program helps the company develop
expertise in the cultures of the 42 countries where Tata operates. And when employees
return to India, they typically work on similar kinds of projects, so they bring
home and share lessons they gained from their overseas assignments. 29
Job rotation helps employees gain an appreciation for the company’s goals,
increases their understanding of different company functions, develops a network of
contacts, and improves problem-solving and decision-making skills. 30 Job rotation
also helps employees increase their salary and earn promotions faster. However, job
rotation poses some problems for employees and the organization. Knowing they will
be rotated to another job may give the employees a short-term perspective on problems
and their solutions. Employees may feel less satisfied and motivated because they
have difficulty developing specialized skills and leave the position too soon to fulfill
any challenging assignments. The rotation of employees through a department may
hurt productivity and increase the workload of those who remain after employees are
rotated out. Job rotation is most likely to succeed when it meets certain conditions: 31
• The organization establishes and communicates clear policies about which positions
are eligible for job rotation. Job rotation for nonmanagement employees as
well as managers can be beneficial, depending on the program’s objectives.
• Employees and their managers understand and agree on the expectations for the
job rotation, including which skills are to be developed.
• Goals for the program support business goals. These might include exposing highpotential
employees to a variety of business units, customers, or geographic areas
in preparation for management positions or rotating an experienced, talented
employee through several business units to mentor or coach employees.
• The rotation schedule is realistic, taking into account how long employees will
need to become familiar with their new position, as well as how much time is
needed for employees to complete the assignments.
• Top management is committed to the program’s success.
• Someone is responsible for measuring whether the program is meeting its goals.
Assignment of an
employee to a position
in a different area of
the company, usually
in a lateral move.
Assignment of an
employee to a position
with less responsibility
Transfers, Promotions, and Downward Moves
Most companies use upward, downward, and lateral moves as an option for employee
development. In a transfer, the organization assigns an employee to a position in a
different area of the company. Transfers do not necessarily increase job responsibilities
or compensation. They are usually lateral moves, that is, moves to a job with a similar
level of responsibility. They may involve relocation to another part of the country or
even to another country.
Relocation can be stressful because of the demands of moving, especially when
family members are affected. People have to find new housing, shopping, health
care, and leisure facilities, and they often lack the support of nearby friends and family.
These stresses come at the same time the employee must learn the expectations
and responsibilities associated with the new position. Because transfers can provoke
anxiety, many companies have difficulty getting employees to accept them. Employees
most willing to accept transfers tend to be those with high career ambitions and
beliefs that the organization offers a promising future and that accepting the transfer
will help the company succeed. 32
A downward move occurs when an employee is given less responsibility and
authority. The organization may demote an employee because of poor performance or
move the employee to a lower-level position in another function so that the employee
can develop different skills. The temporary crossfunctional
move is the most common way to use
downward moves for employee development. For
example, engineers who want to move into management
often take lower-level positions, such as
shift supervisor, to develop their management skills.
Many employees have difficulty associating
transfers and downward moves with development;
these changes may feel more like forms of punishment.
Employees often decide to leave an organization
rather than accept such a change, and then
the organization must bear the costs of replacing
those employees. Employees will be more likely to
accept transfers and downward moves as development
opportunities if the organization provides
information about the change and its possible benefits
and involves the employee in planning the
change. Employees are also more likely to be positive
about such a recommendation if the organization
provides clear performance objectives and
frequent feedback. Employers can encourage an employee to relocate by providing financial assistance with the move, information
about the new location and job, and help for family members, such as identifying
schools, child care and elder care options, and job search assistance for the
employee’s spouse. 33
A promotion involves moving an employee into a position with greater challenges,
more responsibility, and more authority than in the previous job. Usually promotions
include pay increases. Because promotions improve the person’s pay, status,
and feelings of accomplishment, employees are more willing to accept promotions
than lateral or downward moves. Even so, employers can increase the likelihood that
employees will accept promotions by providing the same kind of information and
assistance that are used to support transfers and downward moves. Organizations can
more easily offer promotions if they are profitable and growing. In other conditions,
opportunities for promoting employees may be limited.
through a full-time
temporary position at
A leave of absence
from an organization
Temporary Assignments with Other Organizations
In some cases, an employer may benefit from the skills an employee can learn at
another organization. The employer may encourage the employee to participate in
an externship —a full-time temporary position at another organization. Externships
are an attractive option for employees in analytical positions, who otherwise might
solve the same kinds of problems over and over, becoming bored as they miss out on
exposure to challenging new ideas and techniques. GE Money uses this type of development
for its analysts in Shanghai and Bangalore. It loans them out for temporary
assignments to other business units. Through these externships, the company makes
the employees’ expertise available to many parts of the company at the same time it
keeps them more engaged because they see many ways they contribute to the company’s
success. And, of course, these employees are challenged to learn as they apply
their skills to a more diverse set of business problems. 34
Temporary assignments can include a sabbatical —a leave of absence from an
organization to renew or develop skills. Employees on sabbatical often receive full
pay and benefits. Sabbaticals let employees get away from the day-to-day stresses of
their jobs and acquire new skills and perspectives. Sabbaticals also allow employees
more time for personal pursuits such as writing a book or spending more time
with family members. Tamara Woodbury used a sabbatical from her job as executive
director of the Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council to study organization
theory at the Society of Organizational Learning Institute in Halifax, Nova
Scotia. She then devoted four weeks to relaxation and writing in her cabin in
Flagstaff, Arizona. The time to study and reflect prepared Woodbury to re-evaluate
and restructure the council so that the way it operates is more consistent with its
mission. How employees spend their sabbaticals varies from company to company.
Some employees may work for a nonprofit service agency; others may study at a college
or university or travel and work on special projects in non-U.S. subsidiaries of
Employees can also develop skills and increase their knowledge about the organization
and its customers by interacting with a more experienced organization member. Two
types of relationships used for employee development are mentoring and coaching
employee who helps
develop a lessexperienced
A mentor is an experienced, productive senior employee who helps develop a less
experienced employee, called the protégé. Most mentoring relationships develop
informally as a result of interests or values shared by the mentor and protégé. According
to research, the employees most likely to seek and attract a mentor have certain
personality characteristics: emotional stability, ability to adapt their behavior to the
situation, and high needs for power and achievement. 36 Mentoring relationships also
can develop as part of the organization’s planned effort to bring together successful
senior employees with less-experienced employees.
One major advantage of formal mentoring programs is that they ensure access to
mentors for all employees, regardless of gender or race. A mentoring program also can
ensure that high-potential employees are matched with wise, experienced mentors
in key areas—and that mentors in positions of authority are hearing about the reallife
challenges of the organization’s employees. 37 However, in an artificially created
relationship, mentors may have difficulty providing counseling and coaching. 38 To
overcome this limitation, mentors and protégés should spend time discussing their
work styles, personalities, and backgrounds; these conversations help build the trust
that is needed for both parties to be comfortable with their relationship. 39 Mentoring
programs tend to be most successful when they are voluntary and participants understand
the details of the program. Rewarding managers for employee development is
also important, because it signals that mentoring and other development activities
are worthwhile. In addition, the organization should carefully select mentors based on
their interpersonal and technical skills, train them for the role, and evaluate whether
the program has met its objectives. 40
Information technology can help organizations meet some of these guidelines. For
example, videoconferencing may be a good substitute if the mentor and protégé cannot
meet face-to-face. Databases can store information about potential mentors’ characteristics,
and the protégé can use a search engine to locate mentors who best match
the qualities he or she is looking for. The “eHRM” box describes how online databases
are making successful mentorships more readily available at Xerox.
Mentors and protégés can both benefit from a mentoring relationship. Protégés
receive career support, including coaching, protection, sponsorship, challenging
assignments, and visibility among the organization’s managers. They also receive benefits
of a positive relationship—a friend and role model who accepts them, has a
positive opinion toward them, and gives them a chance to talk about their worries.
Employees with mentors are also more likely to be promoted, earn higher salaries, and
have more influence within their organization. 41 Acting as a mentor gives managers
a chance to develop their interpersonal skills and increase their feelings that they are
contributing something important to the organization. Working with a technically
trained protégé on matters such as new research in the field may also increase the
mentor’s technical knowledge.
So that more employees can benefit from mentoring, some organizations use group
mentoring programs, which assign four to six protégés to a successful senior employee.
A potential advantage of group mentoring is that protégés can learn from each other
as well as from the mentor. The leader helps protégés understand the organization,
guides them in analyzing their experiences, and helps them clarify career directions.
Each member of the group may complete specific assignments, or the group may work
together on a problem or issue.
employee who helps
develop a lessexperienced
A peer or manager
who works with an
employee to motivate
the employee, help
him or her develop
skills, and provide
A coach is a peer or manager who works with an employee to motivate the employee,
help him or her develop skills, and provide reinforcement and feedback. Coaches may
play one or more of three roles: 42
1. Working one-on-one with an employee, as when giving feedback.
2. Helping employees learn for themselves—for example, helping them find experts
and teaching them to obtain feedback from others.
3. Providing resources such as mentors, courses, or job experiences.
Linda Miller, a coaching specialist at the Ken Blanchard Companies, describes
the coach’s role in terms of two contrasting managers with whom she has worked. 43
The first of these, a manager at a retailing company, had a supervisor who was not a
coach. The retail manager’s boss was nervous that if his employees learned too much,
he wouldn’t be as valuable. So he limited the retail manager’s experiences until she
became so frustrated she began to look for another job. In contrast, at a financialservices
business, a manager had a reputation for developing his employees. According
to Miller, this manager’s strength was coaching: “He knew exactly how much time it would take for him to develop the person until the person would get recognized by
the company and promoted into a new position,” and he came to think of this development
as his legacy to the company. In other words, the coach knows that his or her
great value is the ability to make other employees more valuable.
Research suggests that coaching helps managers improve by identifying areas for
improvement and setting goals. 44 Coaching is most likely to succeed if coaches are
empathetic, supportive, practical, and self-confident but don’t act infallible or try
to tell others what to do. 45 To benefit from coaching, employees need to be openminded
and interested in the process. The “HR How To” box provides more guidance
in coaching employees.
Employee development is most likely to meet the organization’s needs if it is part of
a human resource system of career management. In practice, organizations’ career
management systems vary. Some rely heavily on informal relationships, while others
are sophisticated programs. As shown in Figure 9.3 , a basic career management
system involves four steps: data gathering, feedback, goal setting, and action planning
and follow-up. Ways to make this system more effective include gathering data in
areas associated with success, keeping feedback confidential and specific, involving higher-level management in planning and follow-up, and crafting action plans that
are realistic and targeted to building expertise needed for the person’s career path. 46
Human resource professionals can also contribute to the system’s success by ensuring
that it is linked to other HR practices such as performance management, training,
The use of information
by employees to
determine their career
In discussing the methods of employee development, we highlighted several assessment
tools. Such tools may be applied to data gathering, the first step in the career
management process. Self-assessment refers to the use of information by employees
to determine their career interests, values, aptitudes, and behavioral tendencies.
The employee’s responsibility is to identify opportunities and personal areas needing
improvement. The organization’s responsibility is to provide assessment information
for identifying strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values.
Self-assessment tools often include psychological tests such as the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator (described earlier in the chapter), the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory,
and the Self-Directed Search. The Strong-Campbell inventory helps employees
identify their occupational and job interests. The Self-Directed Search identifies
employees’ preferences for working in different kinds of environments—sales, counseling,
and so on. Tests may also help employees identify the relative values they place
on work and leisure activities. Self-assessment tools can include exercises such as the
one in Figure 9.4 . This type of exercise helps an employee consider his or her current
career status, future plans, and the fit between the career and the employee’s current
situation and resources. Some organizations provide counselors to help employees in
the self-assessment process and to interpret the results of psychological tests. Completing
the self-assessment can help employees identify a development need. Such a
need can result from gaps between current skills or interests and the type of work or
position the employee has or wants.
about their skills and
knowledge and where
these assets fit into the
Based on the information from the self-assessment and reality check, the employee
sets short- and long-term career objectives. These goals usually involve one or more
of the following categories:
• Desired positions, such as becoming sales manager within three years.
• Level of skill to apply—for example, to use one’s budgeting skills to improve the
unit’s cash flow problems.
• Work setting—for example, to move to corporate marketing within two years.
• Skill acquisition, such as learning how to use the company’s human resource information
As in these examples, the goals should be specific, and they should include a date by
which the goal is to be achieved. It is the employee’s responsibility to identify the goal
and the method of determining her or his progress toward that goal.
Usually the employee discusses the goals with his or her manager. The organization’s
responsibilities are to ensure that the goal is specific, challenging, and attainable
and to help the employee reach the goal. At candy maker Just Born, employees
involved in the company’s Career Development Process define future job interests,
identify the necessary experiences for obtaining those jobs, and set short- and longterm
goals. Each employee discusses these goals with his or her manager, who can
suggest changes or support the goals as written.
During the final step, employees prepare an action plan for how they will achieve
their short- and long-term career goals. The employee is responsible for identifying
the steps and timetable to reach the goals. The employer should identify resources
needed, including courses, work experiences, and relationships. The employee and
the manager should meet in the future to discuss progress toward career goals.
Action plans may involve any one or a combination of the development methods
discussed earlier in the chapter—training, assessment, job experiences, or the help
of a mentor or coach. The approach used depends on the particular developmental
needs and career objectives. For example, suppose the program manager in an
information systems department uses feedback from performance appraisals to determine
that he needs greater knowledge of project management software. The manager
plans to increase that knowledge by reading articles (formal education), meeting with software vendors, and contacting the vendors’ customers to ask them about the software
they have used (job experiences). The manager and his supervisor agree that six
months will be the target date for achieving the higher level of knowledge through
The outcome of action planning often takes the form of a career development
plan. Figure 9.5 is an example of a development plan for a product manager. Development
plans usually include descriptions of strengths and weaknesses, career goals, and
development activities for reaching each goal.
A well-designed system for employee development can help
organizations face three widespread challenges: the glass ceiling,
succession planning, and dysfunctional behavior by managers.
Glass Ceiling see pg 279
resembling an invisible
barrier that keep most
women and minorities
from attaining the top
jobs in organizations.
The process of
employees who will
be able to fill top
when they become
Organizations have always had to prepare for the retirement of their leaders, but the
need is more intense than ever. The aging of the workforce means that a greater
share of employees are reaching retirement age. Many organizations are fueling the
trend by downsizing through early-retirement programs. As positions at the top of
organizations become vacant, many organizations have determined that their middle
managers are fewer and often unprepared for top-level responsibility. This situation
has raised awareness of the need for succession planning —the process of identifying
and tracking high-potential employees who will be able to fill top management
positions when they become vacant.
Succession planning offers several benefits. 54 It forces senior management to
regularly and thoughtfully review the company’s leadership talent. It ensures that
top-level management talent is available. It provides a set of development experiences
that managers must complete to be considered for top management positions,
so the organization does not promote managers before they are ready. Succession
planning systems also help attract and retain ambitious managerial employees by
providing development opportunities. Although succession planning is important,
the “HR Oops!” box suggests that not all companies take it seriously.
Succession planning focuses on high-potential employees, that is, employees the
organization believes can succeed in higher-level business positions such as general
manager of a business unit, director of a function (such as marketing or finance),
or chief executive officer. 55 A typical approach to development of high-potential
employees is to have them complete an individual development program including
education, executive mentoring and coaching, and rotation through job assignments.
Job assignments are based on the successful career paths of the managers whom the
high-potential employees are preparing to replace. High-potential employees may
also receive special assignments, such as making presentations and serving on committees
and task forces.
Research shows that an effective program for developing high-potential employees
has three stages: 56
1. Selection of high-potential employees —Organizations may select outstanding performers
and employees who have completed elite academic programs, such as
earning a master’s degree in business administration from a prestigious university.
They may also use the results of psychological tests such as assessment centers.
2. Developmental experiences —As employees participate in developmental experiences,
the organization identifies those who succeed in the experiences. The
organization looks for employees who continue to show qualities associated with
success in top jobs, such as communication skills, leadership talent, and willingness
to make sacrifices for the organization. In today’s high-performance business
environment, these assessments should measure whether participants in the program
are demonstrating an ability to lead and delivering results that contribute
to the company’s success. Employees who display these qualities continue to be
considered high-potential employees.
3. Active involvement with the CEO —High-potential employees seen by top
management as fitting into the organization’s culture and having personality
characteristics necessary for representing
the company become actively involved
with the chief executive officer. The CEO
exposes these employees to the organization’s
key people and gives them a greater
understanding of the organization’s culture.
The development of high-potential
employees is a slow process. Reaching
stage 3 may take 15 to 20 years.
Figure 9.6 breaks this process into seven
steps. It begins with identifying the positions
to be planned for and the employees
to be included in the plan. Planning should
also include establishing position requirements
and deciding how to measure employees’
potential for being able to fill those
requirements. The organization also needs
to develop a process for reviewing the existing
talent. The next step is to link succession
planning with other human resource systems.
Finally, the organization needs a way to provide
employees with feedback about career
paths available to them and how well they are
progressing toward their goals.
A good example of succession planning is
the effort at First State Bank & Trust, based in
Fremont, Nebraska. When Ronald Kranz was
president and Charles Johannsen was executive
vice president, the two men took personality
tests to identify their leadership strengths.
Seeing similar leadership traits in the two, the
bank’s board of directors confirmed Johannsen
as Kranz’s eventual successor, and Johannsen embarked on development activities in
the areas he wanted to strengthen for his future role. Later, Kranz began working parttime
so that Johannsen could begin practicing the responsibilities of the president’s job.
Now with Johannsen in the president’s position and Kranz continuing as board chairman,
they are engaged in planning for Johannsen’s successor. In addition, First State
evaluates its junior and middle managers to see that they are well trained and have
opportunities to work with senior managers and prepare for greater responsibility
A manager who is otherwise competent may engage in some behaviors that make him
or her ineffective or even “toxic”—someone who stifles good ideas and drives away
employees. These dysfunctional behaviors include insensitivity to others, inability to
be a team player, arrogance, poor conflict-management skills, inability to meet business
objectives, and inability to adapt to change. 58 For example, a manager who has
strong technical knowledge but is abrasive and discourages employees from contributing
their ideas is likely to have difficulty motivating employees and may alienate
people inside and outside the organization.
When a manager is an otherwise valuable employee and is willing to improve, the
organization may try to help him or her change the dysfunctional behavior. The usual
ways to provide this type of development include assessment, training, and counseling.
Development programs for managers with dysfunctional behavior may also
include specialized programs such as one called Individual Coaching for Effectiveness
(ICE). The ICE program includes diagnosis, coaching, and support activities tailored
to each manager’s needs. 59 Psychologists conduct the diagnosis, coach and counsel the
manager, and develop action plans for implementing new skills on the job. Research
suggests that managers who participate in programs like ICE improve their skills and
are less likely to be terminated. 60 One possible conclusion is that organizations can
benefit from offering development opportunities to valuable employees with performance
problems, not just to star performers.
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