One of the things people tell me when they are talking about their great leader is “He believes in my potential” or “She gave me opportunities to grow”! Most people are growth-seeking beings. Some will come to your team with visions of growing a career. Talk to them about their vision and what you think it will take for them to get there.
Other people will come to your team happy to have a job and willing to hang on until retirement. Even those people desire development because –
- Things change – especially technology
- Doing the same thing for 20 years can get boring
- People know that those with the greatest variety of skills will not be at the top of the layoff list!
Providing developmental opportunities will benefit you (and the company) as well. First, it ensures that you have an excellent, well-trained team. Second, cross training will provide you with an abundance of flexibility (you should never have a job function on your team that can only be done by one person on the team). Third, development improves morale and connection on your team. Last, but really important to you, is your ability to prepare someone to replace you if you are out sick… or hoping for a promotion!
Providing developmental opportunities can range from the truly expensive opportunities to opportunities that cost nothing at all. Let’s start with the really expensive. These might include tuition reimbursement for a college degree or out of town seminars or conferences. In addition to the cost of tuition or registration, this type of training may be expensive based on time lost from work, and travel and lodging costs. Another cost to consider is that once your team member has completed training (especially a college degree), they may leave for a new job. If you have an employee currently in college, talk with them about how they can use their new knowledge within the company!
At a slightly lower cost, but still an impact to your budget, would be in-house training seminars. Programs taught in-house are usually targeted to the needs of the business. They range from technical (product related) classes to classes for personal growth like time management, leadership, and negotiating.
Training on the job can also be very cost effective. Some examples might be:
- New employee training
- Cross training
- Job rotation
- Giving team members opportunities to present in meetings
- Quality circles or self-directed team efforts
I think you can find some excellent examples in the book Employee Development on a Shoestring by Halelly Azulay.
Let’s not forget the teachable moment. There will always be that moment when a team member (or the whole team) makes a mistake or fails. You have two choices. You can yell that heads will roll and hand out reprimands. (If you follow this route, be prepared for your team’s initiative and risk-taking creativity to plummet.) OR you can use it as an opportunity for learning.
I heard a wonderful story about Thomas Watson at I.B.M. (Actually, I have no idea if the story is true, and it might be a total fabrication – but still, it makes the point.) As the story goes, a young executive made a big mistake… one that cost the company about $1Million! Later the young executive was called to Watson’s office. As he stood there shaking, he apologized for his mistake and said, “I suppose you are going to fire me.” To which Watson is rumored to have replied, “Fire you?? Hell, I just spent $1Million training you!” I have fond memories of one of my best bosses after I made a huge mistake. In his office, I said to him, “I’m SO sorry.” To which he responded, “Don’t apologize. Tell me what you learned and how you will prevent this from happening in the future.”
I hope these ideas help you develop your team! I am going to take a brief summer break, but I look forward to reconnecting with you again in September! If you miss me too much, please join me on Facebook.
Please drop me a line if you have questions or if you would like me to write about something specific. During the summer, I will continue to speak and to deliver seminars on Heart-based Leadership, so please contact me if you need a speaker or a seminar. I also appreciate you recommending me. Until then, I’m sending you heart hugs!