June 28, 2018

You've Got the Great People... Now How Do You Keep them Growing?

Employee training isn’t a one size fits all approach. There isn’t one straightforward answer to building the perfect employee training program, but there are a few things that are consistently present in all the best ones. Having participated in a variety of hypergrowth companies over the years, here are the shared characteristics I’ve found among the most successful programs.


The best people development programs start with a champion with a vision. Regardless of what their title might be, this person is out in front, sharing their vision and building support for the impact they intend to develop. Most growing companies often assign an HR leader to do a little research and sign up a training vendor. This doesn’t cut it. Outsourcing is fine, but you’ve got to have someone who understands your culture, can anticipate your needs for the future of the company and develops a vision for how to empower people with the skills and knowledge to achieve those goals. This person is likely insatiably curious, driven, and passionate about developing lifelong learners. They balance this mindset with solid business acumen, leadership, collaboration, and project management skills.


In building an impactful people development program, this leader must be able to identify the needs of your growing company. Being able to understand the past successes and marry them with what’s necessary for the future is critical. Correctly assessing and highlighting who needs development, and on what skills and mindsets are a core skill for this person. Conducting a comprehensive assessment that includes research, interviews, and surveys will help to identify the gaps and allow for input to a substantial plan forward.


It’s one thing to prepare a thoughtful needs assessment, and it’s another to ensure it aligns with the company’s business goals and the overall people development vision. By doing so, not only are your people more likely to understand the training provided - it is far more likely to be both supported and invested in by your leadership team. Putting people through a standard issue training program is a Band-Aid solution; ensuring it is impactful to both the organization and your employees is essential.


Developing people can be a tough thing to quantify. However, if your people development leader is doing a reliable job balancing and aligning the organizational goals and needs with the business, measurement of impact should become far more natural to define. When outlining your people development goals, think big picture. Include elements such as business impact, quality, cost, and effectiveness. Develop a benchmarking strategy for evaluating your progress, and capture pertinent data in an easily digestible format. Review this information on a regular cadence, and you’ll find your ability to become agile and tweak your strategy as needed.


You’ve got the leader, the plan, and a robust way to measure your progress and impact. What else do you need to ensure success? Buy-in from your leadership team. Having their support helps ensure your employees view this important work. In addition, it will help with accountability and expectation setting. You’re far more likely to achieve affirmation if you’ve done a complete job ensuring your vision and program map to the business goals.  

No matter how strong your program, nothing replaces hiring people onto your team who are continuous learners. Attract and invest in people’s growth and learning, and watch them, and your company, thrive.

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator