In any well-managed company, employees are treated as the driving force that helps that organization reach new heights of success. For that reason alone, it’s every manager’s responsibility to keep abreast of current trends and take proper care of team members. One of the best ways to do that is to actively encourage employee development. By emphasizing the continual acquisition of new skills, managers help their company achieve better overall results and continuous growth.
Whether you are a relatively new or seasoned manager, you know that being a leader is no easy task. Leaders are expected to continually seek ways for their business to grow and flourish. They also have to keep employees motivated and engaged.
Employee development represents a strong win-win. It’s the perfect way to improve, refine, and encourage your employee’s existing skillset. Employee development allows trusted team members to take on higher-ranking roles and advance in their careers. It also reflects well on you as a supervisor. By helping your workforce improve its skills, you contribute to the overall health of your business.
If you’re looking for ways to encourage and support employee development, here are six ideas to consider.
1. Host a “Lunch-and-Learn” Event.
One creative way to improve your employees’ existing skills is to implement a lunch-and-learn program. When done right, these are a combination of a social event and learning opportunity. As the name implies, these usually take place over an extended lunch hour. Co-workers from different teams share a meal along with their knowledge and skills.
During these informal training sessions, you can cover all kinds of topics. The best-case scenario is that the topic is relevant for both the company and your employees. Everyone can share information and ideas that spur professional and personal development. Low-stakes events such as these are often considered a safe place to try new things. People can use them to develop confidence in presenting and public speaking. Your business and your customers will certainly benefit from employees at all levels who are more confident and well-spoken.
2. Emphasize Soft Skills.
In addition to assessing any potential employee’s expertise when hiring, take a hard look at their non-technical skills. Pay close attention to how they interact with other people, especially customers and coworkers. You’ll want to gauge their ability to problem-solve, acquire new knowledge, and see how well they manage their time and workload.
In the past, your company may have set aside the issue of so-called soft skills when hiring. Many did. This often becomes noticeable when problems arise between teams or specific employees experience difficulties when working together. This is one clear signal that it might be time to implement more team-building activities, training, and workshops. By putting more emphasis on the non-technical skills of your employees, you can help them improve their collaboration and communication with others. Facilitating that shift will provide enormous benefits to your company culture.
3. Prioritize Skill Development.
Nearly every company has different departments where employees perform different types of work. This obviously necessitates employing people with diverse skills to do specific jobs. Problems can crop up when employees switch job descriptions or interact with others who don’t appreciate their particular skill set. As a manager, it’s your job to anticipate these issues and make sure your employees have the skills they need to succeed.
One thing you can do is provide specific training for particular skills that you believe will help your employees become more proficient at their job. Start by scheduling informal one-on-one sessions with team members. In a relaxed setting, you’ll be better able to identify gaps where training is most needed. For example, if your sales representatives need to improve their phone and videoconferencing skills, focus on getting that specific training nailed down. Whatever your people need, you want to do whatever you can (within reason) to help them be more successful in their roles.
4. Implement Cross-Departmental Training.
Another proven way to help your company be more successful is to embrace cross-departmental training. Cross-departmental programs allow team members to become more aware of the different job positions and responsibilities within your company. They also encourage more empathy among employees.
The really great thing about cross-departmental training is that it can take many forms. These can include job shadowing, role sharing, and even formal job rotations. These programs may take some time to design and implement. However, they’ve been shown to provide many benefits to your employees as well as your company.
Some of the most obvious benefits include giving your team members room to grow and boost their performance. It also offers a chance to discover unexpected leaders who can level up on their career advancement.
5. Consider a Peer Mentoring Program.
Peer mentoring usually occurs naturally in the workplace. This can be especially true when an existing team member mentors and teaches a new employee about their work duties and responsibilities. However, establishing a more formal peer mentorship program can be very beneficial for the long-term growth of your workforce and your company.
For starters, mentoring allows individuals to strengthen their relationships with other coworkers. This often results in a more unified work environment. In many cases, mentees feel more comfortable talking about their challenges with peers rather than with a manager. Peer mentoring gives them the perfect opportunity to express their concerns and desires for growth. It also allows employees to sidestep the awkwardness that some conversations would carry were they to occur with their boss.
6. Recognize Achievements.
No matter the training programs, sessions, and events you engage your employees in, an appropriate celebration is important. Recognize accomplishments and applaud employees for their hard work. Recognition can be as simple as awarding a certificate for attendance or sending a congratulatory email. Let your team members know that you appreciate that they have successfully finished their training.
If more than one employee has taken part in a program, you might organize a get-together at the end where you celebrate your team’s achievements. To increase employee motivation and engagement, you can add these celebrations to larger gatherings that honor work anniversaries. In this way, everyone has a chance to celebrate successes. After all, the accomplishment of one team member contributes to the success of the whole company.
Stay Committed to Employee Development for the Long Haul.
If you want to help your business grow, you need to pay attention to your employees. It’s as simple as that.
After all, your employees have a vested interest in contributing to overall success. They represent the driving engine moving your business forward. It’s your responsibility to invest in them and inspire professional development. The results will certainly boost their satisfaction, engagement, and productivity, but they are all crucial for the continuous growth of your company, too.
Don’t delay any longer. Borrow or modify some of the ideas mentioned here. Set aside time on a regular basis to help everyone in your company get a leg up.