Nine tips for building a top-notch employee development program

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Most people don’t step into a job role expecting to stay in it forever. Developing skills, progressing and evolving to bigger and better things is typically the name of the game.

The Business Journals

Investing in the development of talent can benefit both employees and employers. Below, nine members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best tips for building a top-notch development and learning program for employees.

1. Start simply.
Start simply, and don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Identify a cohort that you want to deeply engage in your business be it young professionals, a department or those with high potential. Pinpoint respected influencers, identify three topics relevant to the organization and put together an hour of education for each topic. If you commit to doing this well, you will find immediate traction. – Michelle Mongeon Allen, JLG Architects

2. Pause to listen.
Team members are your No. 1 asset. Everything at your core has to ultimately be about what is best for your team. One of the first steps we always take before developing programs to support our team that ensures we get it right is listening. If we jump into action without first taking a pause to listen, engage and learn from our team about what their needs are, it’s easy to miss the mark. – Michael Chavira, Axiologic Solutions LLC

3. Be deliberate.
Instead of implementing a development program as an afterthought, be deliberate in setting your development strategy for the company. An example is setting up core training and continuing education training paths. One important thing most employers fail to do is allocate the required time for training, even if it means reducing “work” hours to encourage employees to invest in their development. – Vic Peram, Veritis Group Inc.

4. Customize.
A learning development program ideally needs to be customized for each employee and their needs on their growth path. It also needs to support high performers to ensure all employees get the training and development they need instead of putting them into a box. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Have a purpose.
Effective training occurs when purpose drives the solution. Too often, the solution is selected before the purpose and metrics of the training are known because it’s cheap, easy, cool or new. Knowing how to do something isn’t the same thing as being able to do it. Would you trust me to fly a plane with you as the passenger if I had only read, discussed or watched videos on how to pilot a plane? – Kim Baker, Vivid Performance Group

6. Have them set goals.
It’s important to have your team members set their own training and professional development objectives. This way they own it! You can support them with dollars, time and encouragement, but the development is up to them. It can be part of their annual performance plan, but it has to be their idea in order for it to work. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

7. Hold stay interviews.
Focus on stay interviews. This will allow you to identify where employees are, what they desire and what skills and attributes they would benefit from further developing. Responding to actual needs lets your team know you hear them, you care for them and that they are highly valued by you and your organization. Do your part to unlock the human potential that lives inside your employees. – Mike Sipple, Talent Magnet Institute And Centennial

8. Provide needed tools.
Ensure that your teams always have access to training and professional development tools and courses. Also, encourage them to learn new skills and apply them in their roles. We use Litmos Learning as an internal training tool with access to thousands of courses. It also allows us to build custom courses for specific positions, for example, if we have individuals moving management roles. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

9. Prioritize training.
Prioritizing development and training is one way to make sure that the program is taken seriously. Adding a minimum amount of training or specific courses to someone’s goals will let them know that you think it is important and that you care about them improving. If they believe you believe it is important, it will likely be much more successful. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

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