Employee development is widely recognized as an essential tool for any organization’s successful growth, productivity and ability to retain its best employees.
The challenge is being sure your managers and supervisors are doing employee development on a consistent basis.
As business guru Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
The same holds true for the management techniques that make employee development successful.
In other words, you can lead an employee to great training, but you can’t make them learn. Employee development requires much more than just the training. It holistic. You have to develop the entire employee.
Here are 13 proven employee development tactics to help managers help employees develop:
1. Focus on success
If your managers spend most of their time looking for failures, they will find them and the work environment will reflect that. Instead, develop an atmosphere of growth by emphasizing employee successes and daily.
2. Be their inspiration
A great way for managers to inspire the people they supervise is to keep them focused on what the results look like, and celebrating when results are met. Rewards reinforce inspiring behaviors.
3. Be open and sincere
It’s easy enough to tell an employee “Good job.” And supervisors can double the impact by making their recognition more public, such as at a meeting.
Another key: Personal recognition needs to be sincere. Managers shouldn’t say it unless they mean it and be sure to highlight the details that made the employee’s work special.
4. Offer growth opportunities
This pays off in spades. By providing opportunities for employees to attend classes and seminars — which is at the core of employee development — they’ll grow their skill sets. Along with boosting results, this sends a clear message that managers truly believe their employees are worth the investment.
5. Encourage feedback
Managers need to let staff know they want to hear their ideas and encourage them to contribute on a regular basis. The direct impact is that managers may wind up with some ideas and solutions they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Indirectly, employees will feel more valued and respected.
6. Create a sense of team spirit
The key here is making each and every employee feel valued. When staff understand the big picture – and the role they play in it – they’re going to feel more motivated about accomplishing their individual responsibilities. Send the message that it’s about cooperation, not competition.
7. Set expectations
Self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we’re acting as if it’s already true – is a powerful tool that can set up employees to succeed or fail. When managers treat their staff as intelligent, competent, capable workers, odds are they’ll meet those expectations (or at least strive to meet them). But if managers let it be known they have little faith in their employees by micromanaging their jobs, they’ll probably live up to that expectation as well.
8. Be approachable
Simply being in the presence of staff doesn’t make supervisors approachable. Body language says a lot. When employees come up to managers who have their arms folded, it sends the message they’re closed off. And if their gaze is wandering – along with their thoughts – it’s sending a message they aren’t listening to what’s being said. The best thing for managers to do is act as if they’re happy to speak with employees (they should fake it, if they don’t actually feel it) and always make time to hear employees’ concerns. Set a goal to personally connect with a given number of employees every day.
9. Keep it current
Look around the department: Is the furniture in good shape? Are employees’ necessary tools in a good state? What about the computers? Do employees boot up and then go get a cup of coffee hoping it’ll finally be warmed up after 20 minutes?
What do employees really want?
Supervisors probably have a pretty good idea of what kind of leader they want to be – but does it match what the staff wants and needs?
Terry Bacon, a business leader, coach and consultant for more than 30 years, conducted a survey and found nine qualities that employees consider most important.
Here they are, ranked top to bottom:
• Honesty – In the survey, 90% said they wanted honesty and integrity from their manager.
• Fairness – Just a hair shy of honesty came fairness, with 89% saying it’s important for their supervisor to be fair and hold all employees to the same standards.
• Trust – More than 86% want to trust and to be trusted by their manager.
• Respect – Being respected by their supervisor, as well as wanting to respect their supervisor, came in at 84%.
• Dependability – More than 80% wanted to be able to count on their manager when they needed him or her.
• Collaboration – Being part of a team and being asked to contribute ideas and solutions mattered to 77% of employees.
• Being genuine – 76% of employees wanted their manager to be a genuine person.
• Appreciation – 74% said they want to be appreciated by their supervisor for who they are and what they do.
• Responsiveness – The same percentage (74%) wanted their manager to listen, respond and understand them.
10. Inform them
When supervisors have a management meeting, they should get together with employees afterward and update them on any info that could have an impact on their work.
Share anything from customer feedback to training opportunities to new procedures and policies. Keeping employees filled in on the latest developments – large and small – goes a long way toward helping them feel everyone is playing for the same team.
11. Meet with specific employees
If there’s a change in the organization that’ll affect certain individuals (or departments) more than others, take the time to meet with those employees.
Give them the info they need to successfully deal with the change. And remember to encourage feedback. This way managers will know whether their employees are clear on exactly what’s going to happen.
12. ‘Good morning’
Supervisors should try to make contact with the people they supervise every day. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy one-on-one encounter.
Just a simple “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” gives employees a sense of being recognized.
13. Schedule a regular meeting
Depending on the size of the staff, it may not be possible to meet once a week with every employee.
But set a regular time for these meetings – the second and fourth Monday of each month, for instance, or hold a lunch meeting on the last Friday of each month.
The goal: Schedule a set time with employees so they know they can count on having this time to address any problems or questions.