Why is it important to encourage employees’ personal development?
Supporting the development of your team members is substantial for your entire organization. Employee turnover and burnout are two of the biggest problems employers face today. As a leader, you can combat these problems by supporting your employees’ personal growth and development. Employees who feel supported, valued, and challenged show more engagement, commitment, and contribution to their organization.
In addition, it is not difficult to promote personal development among employees, especially the high-performers. Every employee is eager to learn, grow skills and competencies, and advance in their careers. And it is the leader’s responsibility to help them achieve this. Thus, promoting employees’ growth and development is key to attracting and retaining top talent and helping your organization thrive.
Here are some ways you can maximize the potential of every employee.
Give - and seek - feedback frequently
Don’t reserve conversations about personal development for annual performance reviews. Instead, communication about development goals should happen at regular intervals between supervisors and their direct reports. Check-in often to track progress and pivot when necessary. Take the opportunity to give feedback about employees’ performance, offer recognition for employees’ accomplishments, and address any areas in need of coaching. Have an honest, ongoing conversation about your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, achievements and goals, and areas of interest.
At the same time, these conversations can be a chance to hear from your employees about their perceptions of company culture. By proactively seeking feedback, you’ll not only send a message to your team members that you value their input, but you’ll also be able to address issues that could cause you to lose top talent.
Concrete objectives and plans
It’s not enough to have conversations with your employees about their aspirations; just like with any other goal, you need a plan of action. Managers should work with employees to identify specific goals or career aspirations and create a plan to achieve them. First, map out short and long-term goals based on your employee’s strengths and interests. Then, agree on some actionable steps and a timeline so you can track their progress. Setting actionable steps will give you better structure and insights and show your employees that you’re serious about supporting their growth.
Allow employees to approach the gap between where they are and where they’d like to be by taking on stretch projects. Stretch projects are assignments just beyond an employee’s current knowledge or capabilities. Stretch assignments encourage employees to get out of their comfort zones and grow their skill sets to solve a problem or meet a new challenge.
While these can be valuable learning experiences that demonstrate your confidence in the employee, it’s essential that stretch assignments not preclude the employee from doing their regular work and exacerbate stress. A common practice is encouraging employees to spend 15% of their work time participating in the project from other departments. Ask what they are interested in learning, and seek opportunities for collaboration. Finally, ensure offer support during this process should your employee have questions or stumble.
Mentoring and coaching
Establishing mentoring relationships is one of the best ways to promote employees’ personal development in the workplace. Consider implementing a coaching program for employees or peer mentoring for new hires as part of the onboarding process. Peer mentoring will provide support to new employees and create opportunities for current employees to develop leadership skills. In addition, ongoing coaching or mentoring between senior staff and less experienced colleagues is mutually beneficial.
Allow flexible work
When employees can work smarter, not harder, they can get more done. Respecting your employees’ work-life balance helps cultivate a more motivated and efficient workforce. Flexibility with work hours is beneficial when it allows employees to take advantage of educational or training opportunities.
Break down siloes
A fragmented organization inhibits collaboration and innovation and ultimately wastes talent. Cross-departmental training can break down the silos that lead to poor communication and duplication of efforts. Promote collaboration, efficiency, and the opportunity to learn something new by implementing cross-training. Your employees can explore how other teams operate and perhaps obtain some ideas they can bring back to colleagues on their own team. And, learning about different areas of your organization will help high-performing employees feel challenged and stimulated - two crucial factors to retention.
Training and educational resources
Employees who learn new skills improve their performance and confidence. Online educational courses, blended learning, or skills training are the most common way to help employees upskill. Help your employees realize the skills gap and where they need to improve to take them to where they want to be in the future.
Not only focus on professional skills, but soft skills are also critical for employees’ growth and adaptation. Encouraging employees to participate in e-learning courses or training not just in their niche but also in other areas they desire to learn. If possible, pay for your employees, or contribute to training courses and continuing education fees.
Invest in a Employee Development CRM
Supporting your employees’ professional development doesn’t need to be daunting. By investing in a CRM, like Talbit, you can:
- Connect employees with growth and upskilling opportunities through clear and tangible strategy,
- Set personal development goals that have skills and tasks link to the company’s objectives,
- Track and update progress directly from Slack or Team.
- Make learning and development as part of your organization culture,
- Roll out a coaching program that allows employees to select suitable coaches for their development without straining the company's resources or hiring external partners.
Using the right platform can make it easy to implement meaningful change and provide the structure and support you need to do it well.
Investing in your people is one of the best ways to invest in the future of your business. Find the intersection of what they care about, what they do well, and your organization's needs. When employees feel their strengths are not only recognized but applied in a meaningful way, they will help your organization thrive.