Set the direction
If you are going to invest in your employees you need have a clear idea what it is you hope to get as an outcome. Obviously you’d like increased profits, greater efficiency, and output across the board – but what does that actually mean in detail? The first step of investing in employees is knowing what they don’t yet have, what they need – and devising a plan for delivering it to them.
Lead by example in this regard. Ensure you actively illustrate you are someone who is an ongoing learner in the field. While this doesn’t mean you need be sending out email with book reviews every weekend, it does means being conscious to show your employees that success in a role is not just defined but what you can do today; but what you are learning to do tomorrow.
Actively seek out and identify areas for your employees to grow their skillset
Just the same as leading by example when it comes to your own self-learning is vital, so too is setting the direction for your employees. Rather than being generalist and talking in vague terms about skills, training, and education, set aside some time to look at what courses and opportunities are available for your team. Doing your research now shall ensure quality outcomes (and avoid the waste of sending people off to learn a course they don’t use).
But discuss it
Obviously if you’re an accountancy it would be far more useful for a staff member to head off and get a CPA rather than a law degree on the company dollar. At the same time though, recognise a command and control style of management is not going to yield a result nearly as good when it comes to outcomes for your employee than if you work with them on shared goals. So, take the time to explore all options with your employees to find pathways they are passionate about and interested in. Even if this ultimately arises to nothing and your team does get stuck on a bit of a dry study module; they’ll at least appreciate you took to the time to check it out with them.
Follow up on how it went
If you were a general who sent troops to the frontline you’d surely check in after a time to see how they went. The same goes for education. Don’t just give your employee a grin and a ‘welcome back’, instead grab a coffee with them and go over the ins and outs of what they learned, and what the course was like. If the education was brilliant it may give you incentive to dispatch more employees to train-up, and if it was bad? It’ll give you pause before sending any other staff to that particular course.
Make training a part of your culture
You hear it all the time, but few workplaces actually have an ongoing training ethos. It is understandable in a way – if you’re not a firefighter or required as a mandatory obligation to keep learning they’ll be plenty of other tasks that fill up the office inbox each day – but by keeping the wheels spinning even when education and ongoing upgrading of skills isn’t on the agenda you’ll be ready and fluid to train when the time does come around for formal education.
Ensure it is put into action
Training is only good when used. No, this doesn’t mean you get to be the boss who just dumps a stack of papers on your employee’s desk on Friday afternoon. Instead, it means taking the time to think and seek out projects and tasks that’d utilise and be useful to an employee and your wider team. Obviously, if you’re sending a staff member off to study its likely you’ll have some need of their new skills anyway; but many company expense sheets have been filled up with all sorts of education and training modules than thereafter go unused – be sure you get value for money, for you and your employee.