Many organizations today proudly tout how they offer “employee development programs” of one type or another. Yes, every company seems to have one. Typically, these programs are promoted under a wide variety of names, including:
- Employee Training and Development Program
- Employee Development Program
- Workforce Development Program
- Career Development Program
- Individual Development Program
- Staff Development Program
Such a variety of names, many of them used interchangeably! Within the human resources world, each label may have a specific meaning or implied objective. However, in reality, the individuals participating in such programs most likely do not know or care about the technical differences in the names.
What’s in a Name?
Actually, a lot! Be careful, as the name alone can affect the perceived intent of the program. This perception, whether accurate or not, can drive the degree of acceptance by employees. Of course, other factors may also impact how the program is received by staff. For example:
- Did employees see any value in previously offered programs?
- Employees can be highly influenced by what their coworkers think about a new program.
- What level of trust currently exists between management and employees?
- Finally, if the program is poorly explained upfront, misunderstanding and confusion will result.
As humans, we are wired such that if something is unclear, our brains simply create and assign meaning to it. Unfortunately, quite often, that meaning is inaccurate. Thus, if not communicated clearly, or its name is generic or vague, the program’s true intent is apt to be misunderstood.
If you ask a dozen staff what they think about an upcoming new program based on its name, you will likely hear a dozen different answers. Some might be positive. Others may be ho-hum and call it just another flavor-of-the-month management fad, something to be tolerated. Plus, don’t forget those who always suspect any new programs hatched by management must have a devious motive. Ouch! Talk about being off to a bad start! Continue reading