Motivate Staff to Continue Developing Their Skills

Let’s look at ways to improve development at your company

By Nick Johnson
  • Encourage employees to take ownership of their jobs and to strive for personal excellence.
  • Be knowledgeable, and share resources and referrals.
    Make sure job responsibilities are clear and useful.
  • Discuss skills that are essential to be successful in the job

Professional Training
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way.
Depending on the role, formal employee training may be required to ensure competency and even excellence. Create a knowledge-base of critical information and best practices to pass on to new hires as you grow your team. This will be time-consuming at first, but will pay off in the long run.
For many roles above entry-level, training manuals are as obsolete as time-clocks. When you  hire experienced candidates, they will put their existing skills and knowledge to work. At first you will mainly have to teach them the particulars of your offering and acclimate them to your company culture. If your culture is healthy and other employees believe in your product or service, this will happen almost organically through conversations and regular interactions.
As time goes on, you can augment their knowledge and abilities with business books, seminars, and access to e-learning on topics from project management to demand generation. By simply reading one or two online articles per week, employees can stay up-to-date with marketplace trends and new practices, strategies, and tactics that others have found successful.

Develop “Soft-skills”
It’s unfortunate that these vital skills have been de-emphasized in corporate environments. Even the name “soft skills” makes them seem relatively unnecessary. Dan Goleman’s framework of emotional intelligence at work is just as important as the intellectual know-how required to perform a specific task. Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill all play a vital role in effective leadership and execution at all levels of the organization.
Try bringing in an expert to teach your team how to read body-language or practice non-violent communication. This may not seem as important a skill as learning to code or creating a pivot table, but it goes a long way towards improving communication and cohesion between employees. When the team is in harmony, work gets done more efficiently and with greater ease.

Personal development
Your employees don’t just exist in a professional capacity to serve your organization. They are whole human beings comprised of physical, intellectual and emotional experiences. For them to evolve both personally and professionally, employee development must be holistic:
– Emotional balance
Ask questions like, “How do you feel about your work lately? Are you struggling with anything?” This meets our basic needs to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and validated – needs that go unmet in many work environments. A supportive manager who is skilled at listening and staying present to employee challenges can help raise them out of a tough emotional space.
– Intellectual growth
Books and seminars don’t just have to be about business. You can provide continuing education around personal finance or fostering healthy relationships. When you have occasion to reward an employee for stellar performance, sponsor their attendance at a class that will further their personal goals and hobbies.