This blog has previously stressed how crucial employee development initiatives are for an organization's long-term success. To realize real returns on human resource investments, team members need to have regular opportunities to hone existing skills or learn new ones. To ensure the maximum return, and demonstrate your commitment to improving team member skill sets, there are several actions you can take.
First, gauge employee sentiment toward development programs. Poll team members to see who is interested in furthering their skills. Be careful not to make a value judgment about those who are not yet interested in development programs. If the development programs are successful, the benefits of participation will soon become clear.
It is also important to determine the training topics employees are most excited about. After all, your front-line employees will likely best recognize the challenges they face in their own workflows, and the skills needed to help expedite or streamline tasks. Start off on a strong footing by choosing popular training topics that can directly impact productivity.
Managers should also work with individual team members to assess specific strengths and weaknesses, and draft customized team member training plans. Once the lists for all employees are complete, managers can organize small group training to focus on specific skills. This way, training can targeted to deliver substantial results.
Schedule regular check-ins with training participants to get a sense of how things are progressing. Discuss which training strategies are most effective, and attempt to identify any obstacles to progress. During these meetings, ensure that team members understand that their personal performance is not being evaluated. Instead, they should be encouraged to answer questions honestly, as the purpose is to evaluate the development program, and ensure that employees are getting maximum benefit.
Finally, managers can increase team member buy-in by recognizing and acknowledging the accomplishments of participating employees. When team members see that their efforts to improve their skills not only impact their own workflow, but that their eagerness to learn is appreciated by management, they will be more likely to continue engaging in such efforts. With the proper approach, organizations can realize a significantly more skilled, productive and engaged workforce.