Business Case For Employee Development
VRH president Jonathan Dehlinger recently spoke to approximately
fifty (50) training and development
professionals from southeastern Wisconsin on employee development
and succession planning. During this
presentation, these training and development professionals were
asked to provide a rationale for investing
organizational resources in employee development. Their arguments
proved consistent with those offered by human resource
professionals throughout the United States and Europe when
confronted with the same key question.
Here is a summary of their answers.
1. Retention of talented staff
2. Productivity (higher quality results; capability to do more
3. Allow managers to delegate more - confidence in surrounding
talent allows managers to push more responsibility downward
4. Coverage of functions in economic downturn - staff can be
spread around to meet changing demands
5. Employer of choice - conveys image of employer as forward
thinking; valuing and growing talents of staff
6. Prepare for economic recovery - can move quickly when business
7. Adapt to constant business change - good people can more easily
adjust to shifting priorities.
It was the observation of these training and development
professionals that investing in employee development - evenif some
eventually leave the organization - is far superior to not
investing in employee development and having them stay!
Their ‘best practices’ can be found at the VRH website -
vrhconsulting.com - at the
ASTD Best Practices link
found under the major page heading,
Managers and Human Resource Professionals.
If you have a ‘best practice’ approach or method you wish to
share, please send to
inclusion on the list.
A summary of this presentation is also available by contacting
firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling (414) 259-
9722 or (800) 259-1091.
And while you’re at the Managers and Human Resource Professionals
page, the ASTD Reading List link
offers a listing of ‘must read’ business books. Let VRH know what
books are being read in your organization.
Focused Feedback© for Professional Growth
VRH proudly introduces its newest service offering, Focused
Feedback©, the 360-degree feedback approach to leadership
development for executives on the move.
"Focused Feedback© is ideal for the busy executive since it is
tightly structured and administered," says VRH’s Dr. Jonathan
Dehlinger. "It has a defined six-step timeline and the feedback
can be dispensed electronically or via the telephone, eliminating
typical travel time and expenses associated with traditional
‘in-office’ coaching and development approaches."
"This Focused Feedback© service will not be appropriate in all
circumstances, but will be a convenient and powerful support
process for many."
Focused Feedback© features:
Multi-point (360°) evaluation
of leadership behavior by comparing perceptions of self, managers,
and up to six (6) peers, subordinates or customers.
Concrete goals for leadership
development and behavioral change.
Focus on one primary
leadership performance goal that is practical, measurable, and
Definitive timeline with a
starting and ending period to the coaching process.
Prescribed number of coaching
Coaching process supported by
email and telephone conferencing.
A nominal, fixed fee.
"Wrap-up" meeting with
immediate supervisor to evaluate progress.
Option for extended coaching
The six-step Focused Feedback©
process, which should span approximately four months, includes the
1. Introduction of the process and describing how it works for
2. 360° evaluation, analysis and comprehensive feedback.
Identification of the primary goal and assignment of
‘homework’ such as behaviors to practice on the job, etc.
3. Coaching session - evaluating ‘homework’ progress and any
4. Coaching session - deeper version of Step #3.
5. Coaching session - deeper version of Step #4 paying careful
attention to perceptions of progressive improvement.
6. "Wrap-up" meeting, which
includes immediate manager, discussing what happened during the
feedback process and next steps, if any.
According to Dehlinger, "Our
expectation is that Focused Feedback© will provide enhanced
leadership development feedback utilizing a managed and
comfortable approach that will not sacrifice individual
To find out more about Focused Feedback© contact Dehlinger via
telephone, 414-259-9722 or 800-259-1091.
Development In Action - A Best Practice
At the monthly meetings of the Initiative Management Committee,
the senior management at Ozaukee Bank (Wisconsin) convenes to
discuss issues important to the bank. One of the agenda
items provides for the opportunity to bring in relevant, outside
business information for discussion.
One of the committee members uncovered a Jack Welch letter
addressing General Electric (GE) shareholders on strategic
employee development and leadership initiatives necessary for the
company’s future. A key part of the letter acknowledged that it is
people that propel any organization. Welch went on to describe the
dilemmas inherent with both the top 10% - cannot lose them - and
bottom 10% - need to address - of GE employees, understanding that
all business plans are impacted by these critical people
Initiative Management Committee member Tom Peterson, first vice
president and Mequon office manager, read the letter and
volunteered to present the letter’s content. He also led the
ensuing discussion among his peers on the committee.
"We discovered that what Welch
described at his organization was a direct parallel to our
organization. It offered us a fresh look into our situation and
gave us a way to begin to dialogue about a topic we had great
reluctance to talk about before this discussion. Rather than
‘wishing away’ our obstacles, this discussion put them on the
table in a new light. Uncovering problems and finding solutions
requires input from other people and only through participation
and discussion does ownership develop."
"Leading this type of discussion was very gratifying for me
personally," adds Peterson. "The entire committee thought it was a
good experience. We got some great dialogue going - now we need to
keep it going. Ozaukee Bank is always looking at how other
organizations handle these types of issues. The committee
acknowledged that this has opened the door for further discussions
on coaching and development of employees throughout the bank."
Employee Development at Work
What does the term
"employee development" mean in your organization?
Employee development may bring
to mind such approaches as classroom training, performance
and tuition reimbursement programs. Leadership development,
professional coaching, and 360-degree
feedback may also be likely components. Whether traditional or
non-traditional, formal or informal, most
organizations acknowledge the need for employee development.
For a small architectural/engineering design firm in Wisconsin’s
Fox Valley, a systematic approach to
employee development plays a major role in their continuing
success. This organization of approximately 60
employees follows a pragmatic, practical, and well thought-out
approach to employee development:
1. Hire quality people -
‘better’ people are easier to develop.
2. Assign to the ‘best fit’ client segment.
3. Establish mentoring pairs two-levels up.
4. Monitor the pairings to ensure success.
5. Employee development is lateral, not hierarchical.
6. President/owner takes personal responsibility for
The key is to select the right individual at the outset, or "hire
to the task," by matching the individual to the
position and client segment to be served.
Different demands for success
exist within each of the three specialty client segments served by
this firm. For
example, one of the segments requires individuals who excel at a
more collaborative, creative, fresh approach with clients. At the
other extreme, more conservative projects require individuals who
are most comfortable with
structured and formalized architectural standards and procedures.
In short, each segment requires a distinct set of skills, talents
and motivation to succeed, and employees are assigned accordingly.
Equally important, this firm is religious about mentoring - from
two levels up in the organization where practical skills and
knowledge can be transferred. A great deal of conscious effort
goes into effective mentor pairings.
"Employees get all the experiential advantages without the
encumbrances of a boss or peer relationship, plus they are
attached to a project where a great deal of skill development and
knowledge transfer happens," according to the owner.
The owner invests himself by typically spending 20% of his time
during any given week in some activity related to the mentoring
process, whether in group discussion with project managers
regarding pairings, or in a direct
technical/personal coaching conversation with individual
The firm also views employee development from a lateral versus
hierarchical perspective. Employees are
encouraged to gain deeper knowledge and expertise in a given area
or industry. In short, they become experts.
By paying close attention to those they hire and matching each
individual with an appropriate mentor, employee development takes
on a measured accountability throughout the organization.
Performance statistics that exceed the norm are typical for this
firm. Not only does this firm enjoy exceptional financial success
and unsurpassed customer satisfaction, but employee morale is high
and turnover is low. This firm is a role model in the industry,
and they are the employer-of-choice in their geographic market
The owner attributes the firm’s successes to one simple belief -
he treats his employees as if they were his
children. Opportunities abound for teaching, guiding,
communicating values and exhibiting those values. He has genuine
parental pride for each his employees and looks out for their best
interest, at least as far as any employer can. "We want what’s
best for our clients and then the company. To the extent possible,
we want both our clients and employees to be happy."
According to VRH president Dr. Jonathan Dehlinger who has a
long-standing relationship with this firm, "We
work with them on selecting employees who ‘fit’ the client
cultures and offer input on the pairings or mentoring
match-ups. It’s a process that really works."
For ideas about employee development approaches that work in your
organization, contact VRH at (414) 259-9722 or (800) 259-1091, or
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Commemorating 20 Years of Service
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