Five Ways Leaders Can Help Employees Achieve Professional Growth

Ready to make a positive change? Here are five ways small businesses can start investing in their employees' professional growth.

Team of happy employees

Although it's important to have the best products, customer service and marketing, your business needs to invest in its most valuable asset: your employees. When you're trying to grow a business, you've got to prioritize the people in your corner. Your employees make up the business, and if they're growing, the business is growing.

But let's be honest: You're busy. Between getting products out the door and promoting your biz, it's easy to forget to invest in something like employee growth.

We know it's hard, but when you invest in your team, you could see awesome results like:

  • A 20% jump in performance.
  • A 25% increase in profitability.
  • Up to 50% higher retention rates.

Not only does employee learning make your team happier and more competent, but it also makes your business more profitable. It's a win-win!

Ready to make a positive change? Here are five ways small businesses can start investing in their employees' professional growth.

1. Encourage feedback.

Research indicates that 60% of employees want feedback on a daily or weekly basis, but just 28% of employees say they receive feedback once a week. In all honesty, most employers give their employees feedback maybe once a year when employees can't do very much with that feedback, anyway.

Feedback isn't an inherently negative thing, either! Employees want to be competent at their jobs, and timely feedback (both positive and corrective) helps them do just that.

Create a culture in which your team regularly gives feedback to each other. That means employees should give their managers feedback and vice versa. This provides everyone with the immediate feedback they need to learn and do a better job.

2. Form strong relationships.

We know you're busy, but it's important for managers to have solid relationships with employees. Because 66% of employees say their direct manager has a huge impact on their career, you've got to invest in employee relationships if you want to help them grow.

You don't need to be your employees' best friend, but you should care about their interests, life outside of work, goals and perspectives. For example, if you know that your marketing assistant loves graphic design, you could recommend resources and training to get certified in Photoshop.

You'll never know what your employees need unless you get to know them! Regular check-ins, team-building activities and breakroom chats are enough to help you grow your team.

3. Give employees the tools they need.

Did you know that 56% of employees are using outdated technology to do their jobs? This is slow and cumbersome — and it also ties your employees to dated processes that stifle their growth. Your team doesn't always need the latest and greatest tech, but they certainly need competitive, modern tools.

The easiest way to do this is to ask your employees what tools they need. This might include:

  • Upgrading to the paid version of free software.
  • Switching to a new tool completely.
  • Updating their workstation.

Sure, there might be some costs in the short-term, but long-term, employees need the right tools if you expect them to grow.

4. Provide training.

Did you know that 40% of employees who don't receive training will leave in their first year? Employees need training to feel competent at work, and that means every brand, no matter its size, should invest in employee training.

Depending on the size of your team and your budget, training might include online courses, conferences, customized online training in a learning management system and mentor programs. It's also a good idea to give employees control over their training options. Consider offering a monthly or yearly stipend that employees can use for books, conferences and certifications at their discretion.

5. Promote accountability.

Training is a must, but accountability and measurement are also essential to professional growth. After all, how do you know if your training was effective if you aren't measuring employees' performance?

In business, you manage what you measure, and key performance indicators (KPIs) allow you to measure employees' professional growth. Establish standards for each employee, department and the business as a whole. Create quantifiable KPIs with your employees that follow the SMART goal-setting framework. Remember to regularly review your employees' KPIs to see what's working and note which areas still need improvement.

The Bottom Line

Employees are the backbone of your company. But if you want them to grow, you need to do more than just give them a job. Training, feedback and opportunities for growth are the key to boosting your team's value, competency and job satisfaction. Follow these five steps to help build a team of happy, motivated employees who bring more value to the table.

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