Investing in your employees means more than paying them well; rather, to improve your business, it's essential to have them continually developing their skills. But what kind of areas should they be focusing on?
Continuous learning benefits both the employer and employees and forges a dependable, creative and flexible team that is ready for almost anything. The different areas of development can include gaining new skills or improving on their current skills.
Here at HR Coach, we've got the know-how on employee development and, ultimately, employee retention. So, stick with us as we give you 10 employee development areas you should be focusing on in this article so you can get on with running training programs to make your team better than ever.
Why should you constantly develop your workforce?
In the workplace, you're only as good as your weakest link because your business thrives when everyone works together like a well-oiled machine. This is why consistent staff development is always beneficial. It allows your employees to grow and develop skills they may not be strong in while leaning on those around them.
With how fast the world is changing, companies must always try to stay ahead of the curb. One of the best ways to do this is by investing in your employees because, in the end, they're the ones who will help you grow. That's why developing your workforce is vital.
Areas of Development for Employees
In the workplace, you have multiple opportunities for employee development. People are all unique and at different stages of their professional development. Therefore, there will always be something new they can learn; you just need to identify what it is with regard to your business. Here are some key development areas to focus on:
1. Leadership Skills
Developing leadership skills is vital to your employee's professional development. Not only does it help strong leaders better their leadership skills, but it'll also help you identify any potential leaders in your organisation, too.
Honing in on your employees' leadership skills will also benefit your workflow by improving your employees' ability to take initiative and charge over situations and tasks you've delegated to them. Strong leaders also improve the work efficiency of others by motivating them, providing good team management and helping with decision-making. Here are some ways to help employees focus on becoming successful leaders:
Run leadership training programs that aim to improve leadership skills at different levels
Allow employees to grow their leadership skills with small projects and provide them with constructive criticism afterwards
Place employees with an experienced mentor to help cultivate their growth
2. Communication Skills
Good communication skills are an asset in the business world. Generally, communication occurs in several ways: oral and written communication or interpersonal communication. Good communication skills allow your employees or managers to clearly communicate tasks and expectations for everyone to understand, avoiding misunderstandings.
Good communication skills are also excellent when facing workplace challenges, especially disputes. Individuals with good interpersonal and communication skills are great mediators in the workplace when there are disputes between co-workers. Here are some ways you can aid in developing communication skills in your workforce:
Create development opportunities for employees to hone in on their communication skills (like with role plays and open dialogues)
3. Listening Skills
Many people listen to reply to the person they're in conversation with. However, people with good listening skills will generally do the opposite – these individuals listen to understand what the person is saying and then give a well-thought-out reply only if necessary. Focusing on this skill will improve employee communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
You'll also find that people with good listening skills don't need to be told twice to do something, ensuring that your instructions will never be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Here are a few things you can do to develop good listening skills with your staff:
Offer listening exercises like paraphrasing and summarising
Encourage employees to take part in group discussions while practising their listening skills
Get your employees to go over customer feedback forms often. This allows them to get familiar with real-world feedback, whether positive or negative and work through critical points of the input that they can improve on for later
4. Interpersonal Skills
Dealing with people is a vital part of any business. Developing good interpersonal skills in employees, especially those who deal with customers one-on-one. Individuals with interpersonal skills have an excellent ability to deal with co-workers and customers. They're patient, listen well and are generally great at conflict resolution.
5. Problem-Solving Skills
Workspace challenges are bound to rise sooner or later, and that's when it pays to have a team of people with good problem-solving skills. Effective problem-solving helps your team overcome challenges and take advantage of good opportunities that come your way. Developing problem-solving techniques in your team can be a fun time; here are some ways you can do it:
Get your employees to practice asking the five "whys" to identify the cause of the problem so they can come up with a solution
Create an open space for employees to brainstorm and compare different opinions and ideas
Give them case studies that challenge them. This will help them hone their problem-solving skills in real-world situations
6. Conflict Resolution Skills
Good conflict resolution skills are crucial to your employee's professional growth. People often offend easily, especially in the workspace where pressure is high, and people are stressed. Training your staff to deal with conflict maturely will significantly impact how your staff relate to one another. It'll help you maintain a healthy work environment and reduce disruptions. Here are some tips for developing good conflict-resolution skills:
Equip your staff with the know-how when it comes to conflict resolution. Use coaching classes to give them practical tips to deal with conflict in the workspace
Have a neutral third party to mediate between parties. This is often beneficial and brings the issue to a close faster
Make your expectations clear on how staff should engage with one another when in a dispute
7. Organisational Skills
Yes, some people are naturally more organised than others, but the truth is that organisation is a habit. Once you've got the hang of it, being organised will positively affect various aspects of a job. Here are some simple yet effective tips to help develop organisational skills:
Encourage employees to devote time each workday to organising
Lay out a functional organisation system
Encourage staff to keep high-priority tasks at the forefront
8. Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is also a valuable skill to develop in your staff. Like problem-solving, critical thinkers are great at examining the facts to make a calculated judgement or decision. These are the kind of people you want to evaluate new opportunities because they'll pick up risk quickly.
Critical thinking doesn't come naturally to everyone. Like a muscle, it needs exercise to develop. Here are some ways you can develop critical thinking in your employees:
Encourage your staff to ask questions and look at problems from multiple angles
Provide them with case studies that urge them to think critically. A good example of case studies that do this are those fun detective cases
Give them projects that require critical thinking to get the desired result
9. Stress Management Skills
Stress management is worth investing in because when the going gets tough, you want a team that healthily shows grit. Many people might think of stress as uncontrollable, but stress management is an acquired skill that can help people thrive even in more challenging situations.
The basis of developing stress management skills is prevention and control. It's impossible to eradicate stress, and it can creep up on even the most resilient people. Here are some tactics to aid in developing your employee's stress management skills:
Help them identify stressors
Encourage staff to be physically active
Encourage them to keep a stress journal
Encourage employees to confide in a network of friends
Encourage them to eliminate lousy coping habits
Make time for relaxation and fun
Help them follow the four A's of stress management: Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept
10. Time Management Skills
One skill that often goes with the organisation is time management skills – the process of planning and executing a conscious control over how much time one spends on different activities. At first, this skill is something people are either good or bad at, but one thing is for sure: it's possible for everyone to develop time management skills, and it's something every employee will benefit from. Ultimately, helping your employees master this skill is helping them learn how to work smarter and not harder.
The risk of not developing time management skills could mean running staff who tend to procrastinate, miss deadlines, and ultimately lack productivity.
The benefits of focusing on improving time management will often result in employees who:
Have a higher rate of productivity and efficiency
Meet their deadlines
Are less stressed and anxious
Deliver a better standard of work
Final Thoughts on Development for Employees
Investing in developing your team's areas of development is more than just building their skills; it's investing in increasing profitability and productivity. Driving a successful employee plan will require backing from everyone in the organisation. It should be a formal program with official resources and not something to be done on a whim. To get assistance from a professional HR consultant, get a hold of us today at HR Coach and we can talk you through how our employee development and retention software can help.