More than one in three organizations have stepped up efforts to develop individual contributors, according to a survey of executives and managers from more than 700 organizations by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.
Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed reported that their senior management has in recent years become more supportive of the training and development of employees who may have no direct reports or formal leadership position, but whose expertise is important for the organization’s success.
Ten percent of respondents said such a focus is nothing new for their organization, and 28% said that their development programs are already open to everyone.
But 22% percent conceded that their organization generally overlooks individual contributors.
In your opinion, has there been a new focus on developing individual contributors at your organization?
Yes, in recent years our senior management has become more
supportive of the development of individual contributors. 37%
Not really, since our development programs are offered to everyone. 28%
No, at our organization individual contributors are generally overlooked. 22%
No, our senior management has long had a special focus on developing
individual contributors. 10%
Don’t know. 3%
“There appears to be an emerging focus at many organizations on addressing the development needs of individual contributors who are, after all, essential to meeting business objectives,” said Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions. “Every organization has such people, key players who get things done despite having no direct management authority.”
According to Jones, so-called high-potential candidates from the management ranks often seem to get all the attention, while individual contributors hardly figure in development programs. “Their training needs are taken for granted, an oversight that jeopardizes the future of the business…aside from affecting performance, retention, and engagement.”
Respondents were also asked if their organization makes any special effort to develop individual contributors:
Yes, but only on an ad hoc basis. 51%
Yes, we have a formal program to meet their needs. 22%
No, and we don’t expect to. 11%
Not yet, but our goal is to have a program in place
in the near future. 10%
Don’t know/does not apply. 6%
“But when we look at what’s actually being done to meet the needs of individual contributors,” observed Jones, “we find that barely one-fifth of employers have a program devoted especially to their needs. At the same time, half of respondents profess to develop these employees on an ad hoc basis, which almost certainly means one individual at a time…hardly a program at all.”
Many individual contributors have pivotal roles in the organization’s success, advised Jones. “Consider your top-performing sales people, the specialists in finance or IT, or even those responsible for generating innovation in R&D. These people need training and development, along with your potential new leaders and top-performing talent. Management is remiss if they’re not investing in the development of this critical group of employees, and that will only hurt the performance of the organization over time.”
The survey was conducted from November 16, 2013 to January 22, 2014, and respondents consisted of 721 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals, and employee contacts drawn from AMA's database of contacts.
With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.
Media Contact: Phil Ryan, 845-339-7858, [email protected].