Anyone can benefit from professional development—it builds connections, refines skills, and sets the participant on track to higher achievement. For that reason, knowing how to help employees grow can be profoundly beneficial.
That said, it isn’t always easy. But if you want to know how to help employees with career development, the following six tips can be your starting point.
Although every company is different, the following employee development suggestions can give you a sense of what support is needed at work as you figure out how to help employees grow professionally.
1. Start With an Objective
As with any company procedure, it’s always best to direct your actions based on a goal, not the other way around.
Figure out what your company and your employees need. Are you looking to cultivate the next generation of managers? Do you just want everyone to be a little bit better at their jobs? Are you seeking holistic development, or focused on concrete deliverables?
Once you know your priorities, you can structure your initiatives around them as part of a coherent professional development program.
2. Know the Difference Between Training vs. Professional Development
When considering the question “how can managers support employees,” you’ll need to distinguish basic employee training from more complex professional development. The former often has concrete objectives and firm requirements, while the latter tends to be more open-ended, networking-oriented, and personalized.
It’s an important distinction, if only because it helps you get your employees enthusiastic about growth initiatives.
When they learn you’re launching projects for professional development, they might associate those words with mandatory training. But you want them to see it as a growth opportunity.
3. Meet Employees Where They Are
As much as you want employees to grow, you must appreciate their uniqueness. If you’re more focused on end goals over progress, you’ll inevitably be disappointed in their work.
Furthermore, meeting employees in their current capacities can help you set practical goals. An employee who loves to write, for example, might do better in a communications workshop than in a seminar on advanced accounting—and you should support them in that.
4. Challenge Them Productively
On the other end of the spectrum, one of the best ways to improve professional development is by humanely challenging them. It can be all too common to feel inadequate or impotent at some point in one’s career. As a supervisor, you can intervene by encouraging staff and communicating that you believe in their potential.
5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
As an extension of the last tip on how to help employees grow, it’s essential to actively show you believe in your staff. To help them develop their skills and confidence, let them take the lead on presentations, new projects, or personal initiatives.
6. Respect Soft Skills
Remember that not all professional growth means accumulating hard skills. Soft skills, the competencies that are transferable across different settings, can also be a developmental end goal.
For instance, if your organization has the resources, you could pay for an employee to get a master’s degree. Though some may pursue business degrees, others gain equal (or more) benefit from degrees that emphasize soft skills, like English.
Employee Growth and Development Ideas 2023
So, how do you encourage employees to improve? With these six tips as your starting point, you’re already on the right track to encouraging productivity, keeping your company fresh, and learning how to help employees grow with you.
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An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround, financing and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: www.fmconsulting.net or www.youtube.com/gymconsultant.