Today’s business leaders understand that they need to invest in their people through ongoing, continuous development for their businesses to stay relevant. Success in these areas relies on fostering a culture of learning amongst your workforce and empowering them with additional skills that will give some added punch to your organization.
The challenge lies in getting started in development, selecting the right programs, and measuring outcomes.
Here’s a roadmap to building successful development programs that will add to your bottom line and create your company’s future managers and leaders.
Planning Your Development Programs
Before you jump into which development programs to offer your workforce, you should evaluate how your teams operate today. Are they collaborative? Do your employees understand how each business unit works together? Are your people able to successfully transition between departments if necessary?
You should also assess your employee’s individual career aspirations. Your managers can have casual conversations with each of their team members and provide the results. Employees are usually open about the direction they want their career to take and will appreciate your interest.
Managers can also ask employees what kind of training opportunities they’d like to see to help them reach their career goals. Be sure to emphasize that their development program is unique to their needs, as they’ll be more receptive to taking the training once it’s offered.
Equally crucial is ensuring that your training programs will help you meet your company’s objectives and your employees’ development goals. Consider which skills need developing to meet those objectives. Examples include in-house software training, sales training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills development.
Creating Skills Development Programs
The good news is that getting started in employee development doesn’t take a significant financial investment. You can use your own people to help develop one another when bringing in a professional isn’t cost-effective at this time.
Here are five ways your company can promote skills development in the workplace:
- Arrange For Job Shadowing: Expand your employees’ development opportunities and foster collaboration across your company by creating job shadowing opportunities. Job shadowing involves having an employee observe a colleague’s role for a day, week, or longer. Shadowing gives participants a “big picture” view of how your company works and promotes cross-departmental teamwork. This strategy is also beneficial for people who may have become bored or disengaged with their work, opening them up to other career paths within your organization.
- Create A One-On-One Mentorship Program: Mentoring programs are beneficial for developing relationships within your company. The mentor doesn’t have to work in the employee’s department; they can be any leader within the company who is great at forming relationships. Mentors will answer employee questions, help them solve problems, and provide an opportunity to foster collaboration. The setting doesn’t have to be formal either. Just 30 minutes over coffee, even outside the office, can give employees new perspectives and an opportunity to share ideas.
- Host Lunch And Learn Sessions: Learning opportunities don’t have to be held in formal classroom settings. Hosting a lunch and learn session empowers knowledge transfer and relationship building in a fun, casual environment. Plus, there’s food! If there’s money in the budget, you can provide a simple lunch. Otherwise, invite your participants to bring their own or create a potluck where everyone brings a dish to share with everyone. Encourage participation to create an atmosphere of a fun social event than a formal meeting.
- Implement A Job Rotation Program: Rotational programs involve having employees work on projects across different departments, giving participants hands-on experience in various roles. This type of program can also give employees valuable big-picture insights that can be used to improve processes and optimize inter-departmental collaboration. Plus, your workers might become invigorated to explore different career paths within your company, giving you an additional opportunity to improve retention rates.
- Invest In Professional Training: Consider providing a stipend for external training when you want to provide personal or professional development that isn’t available in-house. External training can help your team learn valuable new skills that will benefit your company. If you don’t have the budget to send your employees for in-person training, there are many affordable courses available on online platforms such as Lynda.com, Skillshare, and Udemy. You can also find training on almost any skill or subject on YouTube.
Accountability is vital with every program. Employees are responsible for contributing to their development plan. At the same time, managers should support their efforts and provide follow-up assessments to measure success.
Assessing The Success Of Your Programs
Measuring program success should start before the program even begins. Conduct pre – and post-assessments by talking to your people about how they feel about a tool or skill before taking the corresponding training, and then ask the same questions after the event. You can then compare if the needle moved on the particular program topic.
Example pre-and post-assessment questions can include:
“On a scale of one to five, how do you feel about doing presentations in front of clients?”
“On a scale of one to five, what’s your confidence level of leading team meetings?
“On a scale of one to five, how do you feel about managing new projects?”
These assessments will also allow you to measure expectations on future professional development programs. If one method doesn’t work, try a different approach.
Every employee is unique and requires customized mentoring to empower them to thrive in the workplace. Once you hit that “sweet spot” of identifying the most effective development program for your organization, you’re on your way to creating a brighter future for your firm through progressive investments in your people.