There are a lot of arguments in favor of employees taking responsibility for their growth and development. The first is that it is their own growth and development. A second is that they must be fully engaged in the growth plan for the lessons to stick. And a third is that employees must have “skin in the game” so they will be committed enough to do the hard work that is involved with meaningful growth.
But there are two very strong arguments for managers taking ownership of employees’ development.
First, it is our societal norm for the person of higher authority and higher formal position to have responsibility for leading educational processes. Think about teachers, doctors, religious leaders, and parents. We would never accept somebody in one of those positions who said, “It’s up to my student/patient/parishioner/child to take ownership for their own growth and care.” And there’s a good reason – because the teacher/doctor/religious leader/parent is the person who knows better. This is also true for retail managers.
A second reason for managers to take ownership is that the employee is not the only benefactor of her or his growth. It is vital for the growth of the business that employees become more effective and more efficient over time. For that reason, one of a manager’s key responsibilities is to teach and manage in a way that builds team skills. So the entire business, and the manager themselves for that matter, benefit from employee growth. This makes the earlier argument, that it is the employees’ own development, false.
In reality, employee growth is a win-win. Both the business and the employees benefit from team members becoming better at what they do. Ideally, employees and managers will be equally committed to the vision of ongoing growth and development. But the person with the higher level of responsibility and the larger amount of experience should bare the greater burden in pressing for team member growth. As managers, we owe it to our staff, and we owe it to our businesses.