How to Realize Employee Growth Potential

Jan 16 2023
5 min read
<strong>How to Realize Employee Growth Potential</strong>

Everyone has the ability to go a step further, and every company wants to tap into their employee growth potential. It’s not only about identifying high-potential employees, but rather, the potential of all employees. When it comes to growth and giving out opportunities, everyone stands to win. HR plays a critical role in taking specific steps to bring out the best at all levels. 

What Is Employee Growth Potential?

The growth mindset is the belief that one’s capacity to learn is mostly limited by effort and not intelligence. Everybody has the potential to increase their abilities, and all they need are the right skills and opportunities. In the workplace, growth potential means that each employee can go beyond their current position if given a chance – and that’s where HR comes in. 

Highlighting Values Through Culture

The usual discussion of “employee growth” is a bit misleading because it’s not just workers who need to grow. Companies don’t benefit when workers develop but the overall organization does not. A notorious and recent example of this is FTX. The cryptocurrency startup was created in 2019 and attracted huge investments from well-known organizations. Its founders became rich and famous overnight – talk about growth! But in 2022, FTX was exposed as a Ponzi scheme, and it lost $51 billion. The real reason behind their failure was that they ignored the health of their company and instead enriched themselves.  

In short, organizations and employees must grow together. But how can workers understand what their company needs? The answer is organizational culture, where everyone shares the same attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize their company.  

Creating an attractive and productive culture is a big job, but there is one element that is vital. Constant communication that reinforces the “brand” of the company will gain mindshare for values, and illustrate culture in action. HR leads the way in this effort, but won’t go far without the same messaging from direct managers and executives. 

You’ll know you’ve succeeded in building an effective culture when a pulse survey about “what I like most about working here” gets responses that show the employee as feeling part of something bigger than themselves. One famous example of this attitude is the 1961 visit of President John F. Kennedy Jr. to NASA headquarters. When he asked a janitor what he was doing, the janitor replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

Enabling Leadership and Making Mistakes

The growth mindset is based on a central concept. When its creator, Carol Dweck, examined what made some students excel, she noticed their attitudes to failure. According to Dweck, “In the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.”

And where is failure noticed the most often? In a leadership position. When you’re in charge, you are often out of your comfort zone because you don’t have the luxury of time, experience, or advice. At the same time, your performance is under a microscope. The upside of the stress of leadership is that you have to learn fast to succeed, but the downside is losing your influence and even your job. 

So the answer is – don’t penalize failure. Instead, encourage every employee to take part in leadership responsibilities and use each outcome as a learning experience. This does not mean allowing a NASA janitor to run a space program. But everyone is capable of leadership of some kind. Providing leadership skills training will give employees the sink-or-swim pressure that inspires rapid growth.

The key is to throw them a life preserver. When mistakes happen, and they always do, employees need constructive feedback, not scorn. A growth culture will encourage opinions, questions, advice, and openness to ask for help. 

Providing a Rich Set of Opportunities

Skills don’t actually sink in until they are used for real. After a leadership course, employees need to get out there and practice, then receive real-time feedback. For companies with a job enrichment program, the framework already exists to make this happen through activities such as:

Don’t forget to measure each initiative to check if progress is being made, and if not, you’ll need to make changes that will lead to improvement. Knowing which metrics to assign depends on the initiative which is being run. 

Delivering Effective Learning and Development Programs

One crucial consideration for any growth program is the skill level of employees. It might be true that growth is a mindset, but in the workplace, that mindset still depends on the right skills for the job. Making the most out of motivated workers means building an employee growth strategy and then following best practices to ensure success.  

Reap the Potential of L&D with GrowthSpace 

Everyone has the ability to grow, yet each employee will follow a unique path based on their professional goals and personal preferences. But how can HR cater to the development needs of every worker? 

GrowthSpace is how. The world’s leading L&D platform enables HR to automate much of the process related to building skills, from matching employees with experts to goal-setting and assessment. GrowthSpace delivers employee growth courses at scale, providing a vital ingredient for their – and the company’s – success.

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