Finding great talent is hard, but what’s even more challenging is keeping the talent you have engaged so they will stay. Unless you continually reinvest in developing your employees with successful training, they may leave and you will find yourself back at square one trying to procure more talent. And although training may sound expensive and time-consuming, turnover can be devastating. Training and developing one’s employees will lead to greater success, however, it doesn’t seem that organizations are making a lot of progress in this area. Even though statistics show that it is worth a company’s effort and resources to develop employees in order to retain them, there is still a gap.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the following ways to implement training and development strategies for your employees in order to achieve success as a company:
1. Create Individual Development Plans: The first step in developing employees is to create a development plan. Sit down with the employee and discuss individual interests and career goals. This conversation will help identify the development activities that individual should be undertaking. After all, not everyone shares the same goals or has the same perspective about what they want to achieve in their career. The development plan should provide a roadmap for the employee that includes measurable goals and a realistic timeframe for achieving each goal. Taking time to discuss and add detail to the employee development plan or blueprint will increase the likelihood for an ROI for all involved.
This idea of creating individual development plans works best with the idea of “pathways”. Pathways streamline individual development plans because while there is no time to “design a course” for every skill-gap in the world, there is a way to design a pathway for all employees. Pathways allow organizations to build the skills of current in-house employees. By “reskilling” and “upskilling” their current talent, organizations remain relevant and foster an environment of continuous learning and development. By focusing on pathways, employees enable their own learning, know what goals they are working towards and how to reach them and facilitate career development through customized specific career pathways.
2. Implement Tailored Training: By incorporating both in-person and online resources, employees are able to gain a fuller understanding of the information during training and have a reference to turn to if issues arise in the future. A well-designed training program that maximizes learning before, during and after instruction translates into positive, lasting changes on the job. In order to have a training program that is easily implemented and flexible people are turning to Internet-based learning. This type of skill building is an increasingly attractive option that allows employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule (on weekends or evenings) with access to the material at any time.
Everybody learns at their own speed, but most companies aren’t considering that fact training them. By not being able to review training information how they’d like, employees are forced to rush through complicated topics. It also denies employees time to take a moment and process what they’ve learned, which is an important part of the learning process. Additionally, platforms like ProSky’s pathways makes it easy for employees to reflect and share their input, learn at their own pace and stay motivated on their career path. This not only makes training more engaging but also ensures each employee is properly processing what they’re learning. This method of pathways puts individual employees in control of their own learning, allowing for personal differences in learning styles and encouraging ownership of the learning process.
3. Provide Performance Metrics and Milestones: It is essential to set specific quantitative metrics to help an employee understand where they need to be or what they can realistically achieve. Then, as these performance metrics are met, the bar can be raised so the employee feels a continued sense of accomplishment. Before running a marathon, a runner first sets shorter goals and then works their way up, running further and further and building the muscles and power needed to eventually get them to that marathon goal. Measuring progress is not only necessary, it also helps drive accountability.
4. Provide Opportunities Outside of Job Function: Sadly, it’s commonplace for organizations to be so compartmentalized that employees believe they can only operate within their individual department. However, to truly develop an employee for a larger role in the company, they need to understand how all aspects of the organization work. Providing opportunities outside of job function acts as cross training that will increase their awareness and knowledge of the organization and help them work more effectively with others because they have a new understanding of what other employees do for the company. Again, when training for a marathon, an athlete will not purely run, it is necessary to lift weights, stretch, learn breathing techniques and much more in order to succeed in completing the race. The additional responsibility will put them in new situations, add challenges, expand skill sets, and encourage them to think on their feet, which will also improve their chances for success in any future roles they take on. This type of development also creates a sense of collaboration, investment, and excitement in the workplace.
Many organizations are rigid in their organizational structure, which can make it challenging to implement cross-functional development and facilitate high-performance training. It’s up to leadership to bridge the gaps and utilize a system that encourages a fluid approach to learning and working. Today’s generation of workers are used to change and enjoy open work environments that let them explore. Check out how ProSky implements cross-functional development here.
5. Link to a Professional Network: Help employees access additional contacts that can help them grow. Introduce them to other professionals that can serve as mentors or coaches, sign them up for professional industry associations, send them to training courses and workshops, and create and attend networking events. Getting them connected to a network offers a way to get additional support, advice, and information on how to grow professionally and personally. It also gives the organization another ambassador for the business.
6. Be Prepared to Invest: From day one, an employee is an investment that the organization is making and from which it expects a return. To get the most out of employees requires making further investments along the way. Although many of the tactics on this list do not necessarily require dollars to implement, resources are still being used in the form of time and focus. Other employee development activities, including training, online learning programs, and coaching are well worth the monetary resource investment dollar. Whatever the resource, this additional investment is necessary and valuable when it is thoughtfully aligned with the organization’s strategic goals and the individual development plans designed around key talent.
An employee will see the value of the development process when they see their current leadership continue to develop personally and professionally. Invest in your employees does not always mean monetary measures. By modeling this behavior, leaders build credibility and the trust necessary to encourage employees to participate in development-building activities. It shows employees that development is part of the organization’s culture and that they are an important investment for the future of the organization’s success. It sends the message that it’s important for, and expected from, everyone in the organization to be part of a continual improvement process that nurtures from within.
These development tactics can be implemented within any size organization and will work effectively to shape a company’s future leadership. With effective skills development strategies in place, you’ll be better able to meet a range of business challenges and generate the kind of performance that will carry your business (and employees) forward with confidence! Let us know below if you have any tips for improving training and development