To Grow or Not to Grow?

What is the responsibility of any given organization to grow its people professionally and as a human beings?

Employee engagement, innovation, change and disruption are all top of mind for leaders of every type of organization. So the above question is so relevant being that two thirds of people are not engaged in their jobs. Disengaged employees don’t give discretionary effort, apply creativity or embrace change and a huge factor to engagement is growth and development. As a matter of fact, LinkedIn pointed out in their recent 2018 Workplace Learning Report that 94% of employees would stay and/or be more invested in their jobs if their employer invested in them.

So I went out and asked several leadership thought leaders this exact question. Here is what they had to say:

Garth Massey, Chief Leadership Officer, MLMethods

"I'd say they have zero responsibility to grow people professionally. Professionally developing people is not a right for the employee, that is the beauty of our free market system. There is an obligation to make the work environment safe and there are laws that mandate what the minimums employees should be paid but business owners can absolutely (and often do) run their business into the ground. That is their right. However, if they want to be successful, profitable and develop their sense of achievement then they need to make choices that create the best in their company so they can get it out to the world. One of the simplest things they can do to achieve all of that is to develop themselves (first) and then their teams. It's a smart business choice if you want to find and retain the brightest people and keep pace in a rapidly changing world. That's going to look different for every company and therein lies the "art" of development but it is by no means a responsibility".

John Eades, CEO of LearnLoft and Host of the "Follow My Lead" podcast

"It’s important to remember organizations are made up of people. Organizations don’t develop people, people develop people. With that in mind, we are at a big intersection in time because the of evolution of learning opportunities on the internet. If there isn’t a deep and authentic commitment to the development of professional skill development and life skill development these companies will lose".

Catherine de la Poer, Founder of halcyon and Open Consulting Group

"Professionally yes, organizations have a duty to develop their people. In fact it’s now a commercial imperative. Talent investment and allocation will, in my opinion, decide digital predator vs digital prey over next 5yrs. As human beings, we must be accountable first and foremost to ourselves for personal development across 3-factors. Emotional-fitness, Physical-fitness and Spiritual-fitness (seeking purpose and meaning in our lives). Organizations who embrace a talent-first approach to transformation are (i) making budget available for personal development (ii) are investing in a culture and leadership development so that humans can thrive at work (iii) understand the 5 human skills that will future proof their organizations: collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, cognitive flexibility, creativity and complex problem-solving (iv) are putting in place both a physical and technological infrastructure that powers human creativity, play and innovation (v) are moving beyond a Profit only motive and re-imaging their Purpose in terms of

People + Planet + Profit ".

Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 and Author of Helping People Win at Work

"Our job is to make sure we create an environment where our tribe members wake up each day inspired to go to work, feel safe while they are there, and return home at the end of the day fulfilled by the work they do – feeling that they have learned something new and contributed to something bigger than themselves. This is the world we envision. If we can create this world for our people, they will take care of our customers, and that will, in turn, take care of our stockholders".

Kevin Monroe, Managing Partner, X Factor Consulting, Host of the "Higher Purpose" Podcast

"It’s times like these when my contrarian nature kicks into overdrive. Combine that with a tendency to obsess over words and word choice — this question expands rather than contracts. Let me explain, three words trip me up in this question — responsibility, organization, and grow. Can anyone actually be responsible for another person’s growth? And if you think of an organization as being the responsible party, then who in the organization is responsible? With that said, leaders in organizations are stewards of the organization’s resources. And the people within an organization are the most valuable resource (not asset - don’t get me started on that one) of that organization. When leaders provide the environment, resources, and opportunities for growth, it is one of the best investments they make and one that will provide a solid return. True growth is holistic and impacts people first as human beings and how they perform in the workplace (professional conduct)".

Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks Coffee Company and now advisor, speaker and author

"Every organization has a responsibility to grow its people! Its about helping people and making them better. The formula is:

leaders grow the people => people grow the organization => the organization grows the business

Business should be giving its people space to be creative. Making money is not what its all about. We make the world a better place and then we make money in the process. It's all about love and taking care of each other as human beings".

Powerful stuff right!

As you can see there are some differences in opinions as to the extent of organization's responsibility in people growth, however, everyone agrees that the successful, conscious and long lasting organizations prioritize their people's development not only to benefit the people within the organization but as an investment in growing the business's influence on a larger scale.

As a people or organizational leader how do you think of people development? A nicety or necessity? Is it something you weave into everything you do everyday or is it something separate when the time and resources become available?

Thank you again Garth, John, Catherine, Kevin, Gary and Howard for your insights, work and impact.

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