Helping your employees become better at their job is one of the most important and rewarding things a manager can do. After all, no matter how perfect your products or services are, it’s the people who make them happen that bring your company success. Yet for most managers, employee development is far from a priority.
The sweet irony is that even from a purely selfish perspective, the endeavour contributes to a more intelligent and productive workforce. Not only does everyone perform at a higher level; they also make you look good. Investing in employee development makes your staff feel that they are genuinely cared for.
As a result, they’re more motivated to achieve. That’s not all – supporting the personal growth and professional advancement of your employees also helps with recruiting and retaining talent, allowing you to delegate and focus on your role in the company.
From a more altruistic perspective, employee development is a fundamental aspect of leadership – you’re effectively making a difference in the lives of others. Read on to learn how you can achieve this in your business.
Build a foundation by providing all the tools and resources your employees need to do their job effectively.
This includes professional training from the get-go, as well as a knowledge-base of critical information for new hires to read up on. Be sure to include a section that emphasizes your focus on professional development.
Your team needs to know that you genuinely hold their personal growth – as well as your own – in high regard. This will help you avoid the risk of being perceived as a hypocrite.
As technology progresses, the pathways available for employees to improve their knowledge and skills continue to expand. Online learning solutions can serve as a useful tool for equipping workers with the know-how they need while allowing you to focus on other tasks.
This can range from simple courses to fully-fledged university programmes. The latter is especially valuable, as it not only provides a comprehensive education but also a certificate to prove it. Moreover, you as a manager can benefit from certain programmes. A good example is an MBA degree, which you can read the benefits of in detail here.
Finally, remember to build trust with your employees. They need to know that you’re on their side and that you’re invested in their success. This will prevent them from mistaking your efforts as an attempt to reveal their weaknesses.
Instead of picking the most qualified person for a certain project, consider making it a stretch assignment. This refers to the process of tasking an employee with something that’s beyond their current knowledge or skill level, thus placing them in an uncomfortable situation where they can learn and grow.
No matter how focused we are on becoming better, we usually require an outsider’s perspective to identify our weaknesses. If said person is credible and authoritative, we will be more likely to consider their input. As a manager, you’re often the only person in the workplace who fits the description.
Be sure to provide feedback when necessary, not only during performance reviews but whenever you notice room for improvement. Do so in a way that expresses your genuine interest in helping, as opposed to just pointing out what’s getting in the way of their effectiveness or advancement.
Emphasize Soft Skills
Despite being vital competencies, soft skills seem to have been de-emphasized in modern corporate culture. Perhaps their meagre-sounding name has something to do with it. In any case, they’re actually pretty important. That’s why some managers have gone as far as rebranding them as ‘primary skills’ and ‘power skills.’
This is because workplace skills with long-term value are behavioural, not technical. The latter is constantly evolving, while soft skills remain fundamental. Regardless of size, industry or time period, a business is still just a collection of people working together, and it relies on that collaboration being effective to flourish.
This is why soft skills like the ability to work together, communicate, and listen are so important. Be sure to emphasize these when talking about and implementing employee development measures.
As a bonus tip, don’t forget about the importance of personal development. Both you and your employees don’t merely exist in a professional capacity – they’re also human beings with needs, emotions and aspirations.
This is why factors of personal development such as physical health and intellectual growth should also be promoted. Once this balance is achieved, you can expect to see major results when it comes to the success of your business.