Employee Development: Like Asking A Kindergartener What She Wants To Be When She Grows Up

Consider this: Employees at most organizations are offered a variety of development and training options—seminars on managing, brown-bags on new software, even roundtables on Using Social Media Effectively (or: Stop Blogging On Company Time). The problem, writes Chris Ferdinandi at Fistful of Talent, is that employees don’t always know what’s best for them, or even what they’d like.

He cites himself as an example:

Back in kindergarten…I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Then one day in high school I realized that I suck at biological science. If you want to be a vet, that’s kind of a big deal.

After several years of trying to rediscover “what I wanted to be,” I ended up pursuing a degree in anthropology…Junior year, I realized that I loved studying anthropology, but didn’t actually want to be an anthropologist. I felt completely lost. My dad kept pushing me to look into human resources as a career. After a little pushing, I took an internship in human resources, just to see if I liked it.

I loved it. Human resources is very much the anthropology of the business world.

Without that ‘push’ Ferdinandi may never have tried a career he thought he had no interest in. Similarly, a reporter whose dream is to file 80 inch stories from foreign locations might not realize he’s also great at doing short video stories. A PR pro who wants to represent restaurants might have a hidden talent (and love) for working with big government agencies.

Ferdinandi suggests a three-part solution: employees, managers, and organizations. Employees identify their passions, organizations provide training, and the managers supply that little push in a direction the employee might not have considered.