3 common challenges in personnel development and how to overcome them

Effective personnel development is the top challenge for HR, yet inefficient training practices and disjointed systems get in the way. Here’s the remedy.

Stick men standing in a circle – personnel development

Developing high performing personnel was cited as the top challenge for human resources (HR) professionals by two thirds of those who participated in a survey run by Talent Q.

This is hardly a surprise; having to answer to both the CEO and CFO, HR managers need to consistently deliver tangible results from their personnel development. The ability, therefore, to spend time on the things that matter – talking to and helping to develop employees – rather than data entry and busy work, is essential. But, too often, efforts are thwarted by three common challenges.

So what are these challenges and how do you overcome them?

Personnel training that won’t stick

Training is too often seen as a box ticking exercise for new employees, only to be forgotten about. For training that sticks, you need a tailored, strategic approach and a culture of continual improvement.

Before training begins, develop a bespoke training plan for each employee, based on suggestions from the employee and strengths and weaknesses from their performance reviews, and update it as they progress. This way, you can create more focussed training sessions for smaller groups of people, making them more relevant and more effective.

After each session, you or another manager should carry out a brief review with each employee – what did you learn? Was it useful? How could it be improved? You could follow this up by producing a wizard or FAQs database to encourage independent learning and further cement the lessons learned.

Failing to identify and nurture leadership

With the recruitment world riddled with challenges and external talent hard to come by, it’s now more important than ever to identify, nurture and retain top talent and effective leaders.

Identifying and nurturing leadership begins from the hiring process. You’re looking for people who share the values and vision of the company and who naturally want to lead and empower others.

You can then give them more responsibility and develop a set of reasonable goals and milestones to direct their training.

More generally, however, it’s about fostering a culture of owning responsibility and independent thinking. Rather than having employees always asking what to do next, they should feel free to suggest new ideas and improvements to current managers.

And it doesn’t stop there. Like any training, leadership training should be continuous. Encourage current managers to act as role models and mentors to top talent and get them to enact regular performance reviews.

Have the manager set an agenda for the meeting to give it direction and encourage a two-way dialogue – what does the employee think of their performance and what are their future goals? Give praise where it’s due and address any issues and concerns.

Performance reviews are not just bureaucratic bunkum; they’re vital for getting management in touch with their team and cultivating key talent.

No time for personnel development

One of the biggest hurdles for HR, however, is a weak underlying HR system getting in the way of your most valuable work.

Piles of paper, stacks of spreadsheets, filing cabinets filled with payroll information. Having a paper-based system for your HR duties clogs up the works with reworks and manual data entry, making for more errors and decreased effectiveness.

The same goes for disjointed digital systems. Time that you could spend on helping to develop your employees is wasted on just trying to keep everything ticking over.

A cloud-based self-service HR system, however, gives you the time back and puts you in control.

Having key employee data all in one place on a gives you the power to quickly share, export and analyse the resources you have and means you can play a pivotal role in resource and succession planning.

And, with nothing to install and no specialist training required, employees can input their own information – from phone numbers to time off requests – anytime, anywhere and leave you to approve it. It frees you up from the workaday admin but keeps you in the driver’s seat.

More time for the stuff that matters

Such a joined up approach fits with the way you work. It gives you a full overview of your resources and streamlines HR tasks without taking shortcuts on due process, leaving you to spend more time on the things that count: nurturing leadership and developing your personnel.

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