Flipping the Script on Employee Development Post-COVID

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As we get back to life and work, leaders and HR professionals have a unique opportunity to think differently about employee development.  Here are two transformational ideas for flipping the script on employee development post-COVID without spending a dime.



As many companies have downsized or furloughed workers and reassigned work, the need for cross-training has never been greater.  Here are three steps for taking a strategic approach to ensuring business continuity.

  1. Create a Business Continuity Team. Make a list of the essential business processes or work flows in your company. For example, customer order fulfillment or the sales quoting process. That is, what work must get done for your organization to remain in business? Then, identify the people who currently run or “own” those core processes. These folks, along with a member of the senior leadership team, are your Business Continuity Team or “BCT”.
  2. Task the BCT with answering this question: How might we ensure business continuity in the face of unexpected adversity through cross-training and process improvement? Consider adding the qualifier that this question needs to be answered without adding headcount in the near term.
  3. Set a date for the BCT to present their plan to the executive team. Discuss, agree on next steps, and empower the BCT to execute.


Leadership development

The past eight weeks have highlighted the leadership capacity, or lack thereof, in almost every organization. Invite your high potentials to the table to inform and lead recovery efforts. Here’s how:

  • Poll your existing leaders and managers to get their feedback on the following questions:
    1. If you could clone a member of your team, who would it be and why?
    2. Which of your team members has stepped up during the past eight weeks to solve problems and/or add value to the company in significant ways? That is, if they had not stepped up, the company would be in a worse position now.
    3. Which of your team members has displayed your company’s core values in observable ways?
    4. Who among your team has asked the tough questions, inquired about the data, and pushed for change?
    5. Which team members have displayed self-awareness, empathy, and/or personal accountability?
    6. Who has exemplified influence without position authority? Who are people informally “going to” and “listening to?”
  • Review this input and make a “short list” of high potentials (“HiPos”) in your organization.
  • Communicate with these HiPos as follows:
    1. At ABC company, we know our future depends on cultivating the next generation of leaders. Each of you has distinguished yourself in the last eight weeks as having leadership potential. As a result, we see an opportunity to create a forum where you can have a broader impact on the success of the organization.
    2. We hope you’ll join us for the kickoff meeting for Project Leadership where we will share more about our strategic plans for the organization and ask for your best thinking on how we might execute and/or alter those plans to drive growth.


Your people are still your biggest competitive advantage. Take the opportunity to elevate your best and brightest and invite them to shine their light into your plans for recovery. Invite them to imagine your future and help create their own career paths. The results could strengthen your organization in measurable ways and create an organic foundation for employee development long into the future.



If you liked this post, don’t miss “Cash May Be King, but Your Power Is In Your People” also by Heather Haas.

And, for more on the benefits of employee development read this post from Leadership + Organization Development Specialist Nora Elder.