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New employees are often confused when they join a new company or team, and it seems like the team has no idea what to do with them. As a wide-eyed new employee who has dealt with this personally, I can attest to the fact that, in hindsight, it was highly indicative of how poorly the company was run. Existing employees are just as interested in progression, and should see a path forward with your company, where they can take on more responsibilities. Let’s explore a few ways you can improve employee development within your company, for a more profitable and fruitful upcoming year.
1. Offer professional training from the get-go
New employees should be presented with training options, or attached to a mentor from their very first day. If new employees walk in and see your existing employees taking advantage of your employee development opportunities, they will be much more likely to catch that contagious enthusiasm that comes with giving employees ownership of their roles and their results.
2. Develop your managers into coaches
You want to be able to rely on your managers and executive teams as your coaches. Your supervisors are (ideally) the experts, with experience they can share with new or younger employees. It’s important that managers feel more like coaches, than drill-masters. The right managers for this strategy should be those who like to teach and share, are reliable and have extensive knowledge of their position or of the industry. Stubborn, abusive or egotistical managers might love positions like this, but it’s your job as a business owner to make sure this type of employee doesn’t get a chance to bring down your new hires.
3. Enhance cross-departmental collaboration
Cross-departmental collaboration is a great way to teach your employees new things. The more our employees understand about the inner workings of the company, the more they will take ownership of the process, and the better the results will be. For example, cross-training your engineers to work directly with the marketing department to publicize new product features is a great way to enhance overall company communication, and keep employees interested and motivated.
4. Focus on soft skills
Develop each employee’s “soft skills,” like emotional intelligence, self-awareness, motivation and even empathy, all of which play an important role in a workplace. While you might occasionally run into the odd genius who is so brilliant they can afford to insult those around them, you will want to hire people with an interest in working well with others. Soft skills are easy to teach, and best learned by modeling acceptable behavior through managers and executives. When a team is peaceful and works well together, more gets done.
5. Invest in employee personal development
Say you have an employee who wants to quit smoking or needs to get more exercise – both goals that will make a more productive employee. Some companies are encouraging more personal development by giving their employees access to doctors, gyms or even online training courses. Consider creating a partnership with a local exercise club, or create a fit-bit program where employees can earn money or days off by exercising outside work. Book clubs are another great way to ensure employees are bettering themselves, while giving them a chance to interact with other people in the company.
6. Set goals and track progress
Clearly set out the guidelines of participation for each activity or program. Then use KPIs or SMART goals to set out success benchmarks. As time goes by, determine a way to track progress, using surveys, interviews or even tests. By tracking progress, you can keep employees apprised of their level, show them a clear path to success, and reward them when they reach their goals. Many enterprises are using leadership development experts or consultants to teach them how to construct goals and programs and track progress. Instructional design experts are great for providing the expertise needed to build a compelling and successful development program that employees can really engage with.
7. Make learning accessible and continuous
Employee development programs should be accessible and continuous, running year-long and available in many different formats. Some enterprises choose to use technology as an access point for their employees, offering zoom meetings over in-person meetings of the past. Take your most successful programs, and run them year round with staggered start-dates, to ensure every employee has access, no matter their technological or physical abilities.
Employee engagement is vital to the success of business, and a highly engaged workforce is proven to increase productivity by 21%. The more engaged your employees, the longer they will remain with your company, and the better your business will do. Take time to rethink your employee engagement strategies for the upcoming year, and put yourself and your employees in the best position for future success!