When considering the concept of employee development, it is important to integrate both professional and personal aspects. Professional development programs will allow employees to thrive within the workplace, giving the employee new knowledge that will directly impact the company in a positive way. Personal development will directly benefit the employee; and although it may not directly contribute to the employee’s on-the-job development, it can typically improve the employee’s attitude about the company and about work in general. In this way, it is a benefit for all involved.
Here is a list of compelling ways to promote employee development within your company.
1. Make each meeting an opportunity to learn.
Instead of seeing development as something that happens once a year, make every meeting an opportunity for your employees to learn something new. This can mean highlighting what certain employees have done well and how they have done it, or it can mean demonstrating certain ways that employees can improve.
2. Delegate the right responsibilities to your employees.
Allowing your employees to take on new tasks is a perfect way for them to acquire new skills. This means that you can focus your energy on more pressing tasks while assigning work that may be meaningful to another employee. The most challenging part about delegating is learning to allow someone else to complete a task differently than how you are accustomed; however, it is a process and it is possible. For this reason, the opportunity for learning through delegating is dual-sided. If employees ask you questions which may seem obvious to you, avoid getting frustrated, and remember this is all part of developing a new skill. Just ensure that you aren’t only delegating menial tasks. Focus on tasks that allow for obvious growth.
3. Challenge your employees by giving them stretch assignments.
Allowing your employees the opportunity to stretch beyond their limits is an excellent way for them to grow as employees and as individuals. Consider what you expect from your employees in relation to their own professional goals, and assign them new projects based on these plans. While it is tempting to choose the most qualified person, in the long term, it is more beneficial to choose the individual who has the most to gain from the assignment in terms of growth.
4. Offer feedback to your employees.
While a constant influx of criticism may simply hurt employee morale, well-formulated and constructive criticism can allow employees to recognize what may have been holding them back in their job performance. It’s also a good idea to show the employee specific examples, both of how he or she is excelling as well as areas for potential improvement. This creates the opportunity for stronger competencies to be formed.
5. Connect employees to role models.
Introducing employees to someone who can serve as a mentor is an excellent way for them to learn through example and at the hands of an expert. This approach is a win-win, as the company will reap the benefits of having their staff trained by a qualified expert while employees develop important connections which may have been otherwise inaccessible to them.
6. Work on your own development as well.
As a leader, you also need to focus on your own personal development. This will not only make you more suited for the leadership role and allow you to do your own job more effectively, but it will prove to your employees that growth is an ongoing venture. Showing that you aren’t simply pointing out employees’ weaknesses, but also working on your own development, offers a sentiment of solidarity and teamwork. We all possess areas in need of growth and improvement, and demonstrating that you are eager to become involved may inspire your employees to do the same.
When companies invest resources in employee development, they are investing in the future of their business as well. While many may feel they do not have the time or money to devote to a comprehensive development program, it’s incredibly important to consider revisiting your timeline and budget. Allocating even a moderate amount of resources toward providing employees with the skills that they need to improve both professionally and personally is essentially priceless. Additionally, this will create a healthier corporate climate as employees feel as though they are growing in their careers, rather than remaining stagnant and growing frustrated over time. We at Stewart Cooper & Coon believe that creating ways to fully develop employees is one of the most effective and important ways that managers can lead.
At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.