Nick Speyrer, founder and president, Emergent Method

Each year companies invest countless dollars in maintaining and upgrading their equipment, technology, products and services. Yet many fail to invest in their employees’ personal, professional and leadership development.

These investments strengthen employees’ affinity (and loyalty) for the organization, maximize productivity and performance, and create a stronger company culture. Furthermore, high-achieving professionals seek out and thrive in organizations that prioritize growth and development.

Before diving into specific development opportunities, it’s important to understand guiding philosophies:

• Tailor your approach. Different employees have different needs. Build individual professional development plans tailored to the employee’s job responsibilities and career goals.

• Seek their input. Involve each team member in the creation of their personal plan. Soliciting feedback will increase buy-in and commitment.

• Leverage experts. Hire professional trainers or seek external training led by subject-matter experts to ensure quality instruction.

• Think ahead. Align development opportunities with company strategy and offer training on topics and skillsets that can be used to advance the future goals of the organization.

• Make professional development a team sport. Use this opportunity to develop relationships, improve morale and strengthen company culture.

• Measure progress. Tie completion of the professional development plan to job performance. Discuss it during performance appraisals and align it with incentive compensation metrics.

Specific development opportunities include:

• Conduct leadership and personality assessments such as the Hogan Leadership Assessment or DiSC and use the results to coach and help employees better understand themselves and their team members.

• Establish mentoring programs matching younger employees with more experienced team members. Don’t be afraid to identify mentors outside of your company from whom  employees can learn.

• Offer “soft skills” training during lunch or existing team meetings that improve communication, leadership, coaching and management skills. 

• Provide opportunities for employees to attend professional conferences that help them refine their skillsets and expand their knowledge of the industry.

• Encourage team members to apply for community programs such as Leadership Louisiana (or local leadership programs) and attend networking events to build relationships outside of the office and expand their knowledge of the community.

• Create a training program for rising leaders that will accelerate their growth and increase their commitment to your company.

• Host team-building events for employees to build relationships and work alongside each other solving problems and learning new skillsets. If your company is spread across several locations, it’s important to bring everyone together when possible.

Can implementing such a program be overwhelming and expensive? You bet. But think about the cost of not doing so.

Don’t know where to start? As Edwin Lewis Cole said, “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” Start small and scale. Even a small investment in your team’s growth and development will pay dividends over time.

Invest in your most important assets: your people. Your company’s culture, retention, performance and future are depending on it.

Nick Speyrer is the founder and president of Emergent Method.

This article was originally published in the fourth quarter 2017 edition of 10/12 Industry Report