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Balancing Employee Development And Bottom Lines


Businesses rely on well-trained, competent, confident, empowered employees. Certainly part of this is investing time and resources into internally and externally developed training programs. There’s also the important process of assessing and evaluating skills and competencies.

One of the challenges faced is that employee training and development can be costly. Yes, it is also an investment. Still, pay offs aren’t always immediate. Most companies must balance the importance of employee growth and development with  maintaining a stable bottom line in the meantime. This means finding development opportunities that can help you foster the skills you need in your employees while still being budget minded.

Participate in Genius Hour to Encourage Employees to Pursue Self-Directed Training

There’s a growing movement in classroom and corporations known as ‘Genius Hour’. This is time set aside each day for personal education and the pursuit of personal projects. Google has adopted something similar called, 20% Time. Not only is this initiative just one of many things that makes Google one of the most sought after employers, it’s also resulted in some of the products that Google users enjoy today.

Employers may not always be able to invest in employees by way of tuition reimbursement plans or by providing them access to the best, professionally developed training programs. What they can do is empower them and provide a show of faith by allowing them to spend some amount of company time pursuing training and other activities for the sake of their own professional development.

Use Team Building Exercises to Encourage Collaboration

It can be challenging to develop collaborative skills. Often times, employees don’t necessarily see the ‘sausage making’ process that happens in other teams or even within their own. They simply know that information they need is there, that a process they rely on has been completed, even that a physical product is where it needs to be at a given time.

As a result, there can be a lack of understanding of how others are contributing, and team members often fail to rely upon one another as a source of information or assistance in a crisis. By engaging in relevant, organic team building exercises such as role playing, this can change. Not only do team members learn what others do. They can also improve collaborative and learn where essential knowledge bases exist.

Use Meetings And Presentations to Build Competencies And Confidence

Successful employees are confident and articulate. They should be able to present ideas and bring others up to speed on events that impact them. Perhaps even more importantly, they should be able to respond confidently and adeptly when questioned or challenged. Great managers can help them develop these skills while earning external recognition at the same time by encouraging them to take the lead in meetings.

According to, Viatcheslav Kantor, “It is a challenging, but very necessary thing, for leaders to hand the microphone to the people they lead. It’s a show of faith that proves their confidence in the people they lead and mentor. Even better, what people learn in those moments cannot be taught elsewhere.”

Whether it’s providing a status update, announcing a new development, or handling a Q&A session, consider letting team members do the talking. It costs nothing and the skills developed can be priceless.

Hold Skill Sharing Sessions

Skill sharing can be an effective and empowering way to crowdsource training and development from within your organization. On any given team, you’re likely to have a variety of skill sets and other competencies. Why not tap into those as source for employee development and training.

Consider the skills you need employees to develop as well as the ones they wish to develop. Next, determine who already has these skills. Then take action to help those with skills to develop skill sharing sessions to educate others. For example, you could give a JavaScript developer time and resources to develop an intro to JavaScript class to deliver for an hour each week.

Allow Employees to Job Shadow And Use Cross Training

Successful companies like Aldi use cross training and job shadowing for two reasons. First, it’s efficient. The more employees know, the fewer are needed on the floor at any given time. In addition to this, employees who participate are able to develop skills they need while still being engaged in productive activities.

In terms of employee development, there’s an additional benefit here. Through job shadowing and cross training, you can begin to recognize and foster leadership and other skills. This is a great way to identify the fast learners, the curious, those who ask the right questions, and those who can quickly adapt to new team members. Pay attention to identify future leaders.

There’s likely no way to completely escape investing funds in employee development. Still, by implementing a few of these solutions, you can create a more well-rounded, holistic approach to training and development. This will contribute to employees feeling confident that you are invested in them.

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