If you truly want a team who thinks and acts with intelligence & independence, then you need to make a commitment to continual training & development within your company.

According to research by Allegiance, a core driver of employee engagement is centered in training and contributions: learning new and important skills, being able to offer suggestions, and being able to complete whole jobs rather than just a series of independent tasks. When people feel they are contributing to the success of the organization, they want to do what is best for the company and its customers.

Especially if you’re trying to retain your top talent – development opportunities and career paths are key components to keeping those folks aboard and engaged. If you’re not investing in training because you don’t have the resources, take a look at the whole cost of loss when those key players leave – salary, searching & hiring, training, loss of time, loss of knowledge, residual effects on remaining staff, loss of momentum (about 150% of the employee’s salary). You’ll likely find that it’s a much easier decision to invest in some training.

Developing a culture within your agency of continuous learning starts with a commitment from management. Demonstrating the commitment through courses you take (beyond CE credit classes), books & publications you read, and company resources you allocate is the best way to create and nurture that environment. Nothing speaks louder than actions and dollars.

As you work with your team members to create performance plans, build in personal development that is relevant and appropriate to each person and his/her team.

This can become a fun part of your company culture and one that employees greatly value – while at the same time, helping to build a better company. Win! Win!

Some ideas for personal development

  • Book clubs – select business books that are directly applicable to the specific team, or a topic relevant to everyone if you’ve got a small group. Get the team together to discuss the book and how its principles apply to your company. Need help getting started with a book club? I’d be happy to share with you how we’ve structured book clubs at BGN. Send me an email or connect with me on Twitter.
  • Blogs & online news sources – when developing performance plans, pick a publication or two that is relevant to what you want each person to learn and allow 15 – 20 minutes per day to review new articles.
  • Classes at local colleges – there is usually a plethora of class options available through local community & tech colleges that can be taken one at a time without having to enroll. Have staff pick out a class they’d like to take that would help develop a needed skill in your organization. It might be a course on leadership, web development, or writing.
  • Have people teach something to the team – If you truly want to master an idea, force yourself to teach it to someone else. Select topics that are important to the team development and let team members chose which they’d like to research. Have each person develop a 10 – 20 min presentation that they’ll share with the group.

There are unlimited ways you could implement training and development – these are a few to get some ideas rolling within your own company. The important part is not the specific method(s) you choose, the important part is that you get it started!


Photo by F Delventhal.