Professional Development Does Not Have to Be Expensive (or Boring)
For many, the words "professional development" conjure up memories of sitting in a human resources office, watching a series of awkward training videos and then taking a mandatory quiz. People – listen to me - it doesn't have to be this way!
Doling out obligatory promotions because your employee spent years warming a seat, or adding routine tasks to your staff member's job description along with a 2% raise is old school and ineffective. Not to mention, that these actions don't begin to truly expand your employees' skill set.
Instead, encourage employees to strengthen and refine their skills. Gasp! What a wild and crazy idea! The more abilities your team has, the better your organization functions. And since employees with more robust skill sets also increase their chances of succeeding and moving up the corporate ladder, professional development could positively influence their job satisfaction and your retention rates.
Here are 5 inexpensive (and definitely not boring ways) to support staff members' professional development.
1. Serve as a Conference Leader or Trainer. Schedule your staff member to serve as a conference leader or trainer; teaching others is a valuable way to obtain new knowledge, broaden one's viewpoint, and clarify one's thinking. Select training responsibilities that put him or her in touch with new operations, process, or operating problems.
2. Understudy Training. Prepare your employee to assume your responsibility as supervisor - either as a substitute or as a replacement. When you are on vacation or extended travel, your staff member can step in, thus broadening his or her knowledge and experience as well as developing an appreciation of different viewpoints and interrelationships within the organization.
3. Special Assignment. Select a problem area that will require increased analytical ability, improved judgment, and knowledge of the organization and/or decision-making skills. Place your employee in a group with representatives from various parts of the organization to develop the participant's knowledge and understanding of the organization.
4. Mentoring. Share your experience, knowledge, and ideas on specific topics with your staff member in order to encourage him or her to try new approaches to solving problems.
5. Active Participation in Community and Civic Affairs. Encourage your employee to become involved in community organizations in order to develop leadership ability, skills in planning and organizing, problem-solving ability, and community awareness.
Encouraging your employees to utilize these development opportunities is just the first step in the learning process. After staff members partake in these opportunities, it is important to figure out how to implement the knowledge they have gained. Engage in group meetings to discuss new ideas or allow them to present a summary of what they have learned and apply that knowledge to the way they interact with colleagues, customers, and everyday workings. Whether you track outcomes differently, revamp your reporting style, set more specific goals, or simply engage in more effective communication, using the ideas gained from professional development opportunities can establish a more productive environment.
It's a win-win for both the employee and the company!