Encouraging Employees: 4 Ways to Boost Personal & Professional Growth

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(Photo above courtesy of socialmonsters.org)

Retaining, attracting and engaging employees is a critical part of running a successful business. Employee turnover is a result of dissatisfaction and disengagement, and LinkedIn reports that losing an employee can cost 150 to 200 percent of an employee’s annual salary. Encouraging personal and professional growth in your employees not only helps them further their careers, it helps your organization flourish. Here are some of the ways you can encourage this growth.

Set Realistic Goals
One of the best ways to encourage growth in employees is to meet with them regularly to set attainable goals. A quarterly or monthly meeting in which the leadership team engages employees with specific and measurable goals helps staff feel like they are part of the bigger picture.

Many businesses don’t track their goals at all. An Inc. survey of small business owners found that more than 80 percent don’t track their business goals. The more you involve your employees in setting goals for themselves, the more they will be committed to these goals and their role within your organization.

Cross-training employees in skills complementary to those they have already mastered shows them that your organization values their work and wants to give them more opportunities.

For example, if you have an employee who works in public finance, offer him a chance to further his education with a class in corporate credit rating analysis — it gives you a more well-rounded and productive staff member and helps him expand his skills. Too often, organizations accidentally create specialists by not encouraging employees to expand their repertoire. Encourage your employees to perform in a variety of roles within your organization and build skills that translate to new tasks that are parallel to their current job and they’ll flourish.

Another benefit of cross-trained employees? It can cut costs for your organization when staff members must take leave or vacation. When cross-trained employees can help cover for those that are out, you don’t have to hire temporary staff to fill those positions.

Offer Employees Resources
Giving employees access to resources for professional growth within your organization is a powerful way to encourage that growth. By building a library of training materials, offering workshops and hosting guest speakers relevant to your industry, you can help those employees interested in their career development to pursue their professional growth on their own time. By having the tools of professional growth close at hand, employees can be motivated to pursue new knowledge relevant to their field.

Promote Collaboration
Oftentimes, the people best suited to teach your employees are their co-workers. By providing opportunities for collaboration and mentorship, you give your new employees a chance to learn from the most experienced members of your organization as well as provide your senior employees a chance to see their value within your company. Ask members of your team to identify a skill that they excel in and one that they need to work on, then pair up employees with corresponding strengths and weaknesses on projects. Follow up each project with a debriefing where employees can talk about what they’ve learned and where their fellow employees took the lead during the project. By doing so, you offer a chance for employees to encourage one another in their growth and see the potential within themselves for growth.

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