Many companies promote themselves as sources of personal development for recruiting purposes, but often in reality this is limited to professional development only, and there are only occasional initiatives for personal development.
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These are normally handled by a professional development department within HR. This places huge expectations in this area, seen as having the primary responsibility for development. The result is that the HR department becomes overwhelmed with the number of topics they must cover, resulting in initiatives that rarely have any lasting power.
This is problematic as it does not hold leaders accountable for developing the employees they lead. It is important to realize that one of the more neglected functions of a leader is to develop his or her team, but it is certainly a noble and necessary one. I would go so far to say that an excellent leader is one who assembles a team where, in their areas of specialization, each member is better than the leader so that the team can function efficiently even in the leader’s absence. Without having to constantly rely on a leader, this team will have the skills necessary to think, be analytical, create and innovate on their own.
This led ClearSale to implement a daring idea: we removed training and development from beneath the HR umbrella. ClearSale decided to create a separate department charged with promoting education and personal development of employees. This department manages global initiatives that are not necessarily linked to positions or areas, and covers all of the company's employees at all times.
Deconstructing the traditional image of training and development led to an environment of continuous learning. Employees now understand and value the available learning opportunities much more. The informal dynamic we have created allows interdepartmental growth and pushes employees to independently grow. This culture is based on the idea of continuous development and mutual respect.
The most important part is to support leaders so that they are responsible for both the personal and professional development of their team members. This is certainly not a simple task. Leaders are not developed through training alone. Our modified program to encourage development requires continuous follow-up with either individual or group meetings we refer to as circles. During our circles, we talk about day-to-day practices and difficulties, exchange experiences and reflect, etc.
Alexandre Assis, an Operations Supervisor at ClearSale, tells us a bit about his experience as a company leader implementing our unique development program:
"Regardless of the area of business, a good manager must combine a number of characteristics; Impartiality, discipline, focus on results, and empathy are key. I am now the product of an environment of constant learning and I have sought excellence in these areas to improve my leadership abilities. Through analyzing my experience at ClearSale, I would say that another key component to becoming a successful leader has been adopting versatility.
I joined ClearSale after working in call centers, where the requirements for a leader were often difficult to meet and certainly not met well. The leaders were excessively tough to the point that they often treated their subordinates as though they were incapable of growth. Thankfully, ClearSale's culture focuses on valuing people; it is one of the principles of our culture.
As we are part of a growing market and our operation is constantly evolving, we cannot use rigid models. We must develop different skills and be willing to listen, understand, and respect others. This type of connection with our employees at all levels creates sufficient synergy to obtain amazing results. To nurture our analysts and make them feel that they are an essential component of the company, we must first understand each one individually. This can only be done by exchanging experiences and constantly learning from all employees, regardless of their seniority, as we all have something worthwhile to contribute.”