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

This is hardly a surprise; answering to both the CEO and CFO means 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?

1. Personnel training that won't stick

Training is too often a box-ticking exercise for new employees, forgotten about when the session or course is over. 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. This should be based on suggestions from the employee and the strengths and weaknesses identified in their performance reviews. Remember to update the plan as they progress and to create more focussed training sessions for smaller groups of people so they're more relevant and more effective.

After each session, you or another manager should carry out a brief review with each employee to find ask:

  • What did you learn?
  • Was it useful for your role and progression?
  • How could we improve it?
  • What further training do you think would be useful?

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2. Failing to identify and nurture leadership

As the recruitment world is riddled with challenges and external talent is 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 at the hiring process. You need to be looking for people who share the values and vision of the company and who naturally want to lead and empower others.

Why? Because 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.

3. No time for personnel development

One of the biggest hurdles for HR is a weak underlying HR system getting in the way of 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, making for more errors and decreased effectiveness.

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

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

Having key employee data all in one place 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 should fit with the way you work. It gives you a full overview of your resources and streamlines HR tasks without taking shortcuts on due process. That leave you free to spend more time on the things that count: nurturing leadership and developing your personnel.

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