Top 10 Tips for... Developing Employees

One of the key responsibilities of those in a leadership position is to encourage and facilitate the learning of those they lead. No matter what size the organisation, creating a workplace where people are able to learn will in turn create growth and sustainability to meet challenges, remain competitive and encourage innovation.

Here are 10 ways to help your people get the most from their development:

1. Encourage them to take responsibility

People often mistakenly believe that it is the responsibility of the company or their manager to ensure they receive professional development. They expect to be spoon fed. When it doesn’t happen, neither does development. Employees need to hear that it is their own responsibility to develop their skills and competencies. Put this in writing and embed it as part of the annual performance review process.

2. Focus development realistically

Encourage your employees to set realistic development goals. Help them select one or two competencies to focus on over the next review period. Having too many goals tends to block progress and can be demotivating. It’s better to focus on just a few development goals at a time if you want to encourage real growth.

3. Help them create a development plan

Help employees create development plans with “S.M.A.R.T.” objectives — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Ensure that these are tracked regularly (e.g. quarterly). Once they have set a development goal, get their commitment to take real steps to achieve that goal. You can use templates with columns for dates, actions taken, resources, and who is supporting the employee and refer to them frequently.

4. Give them variety

Encourage employees to construct a development plan that includes different methods of learning: self-study or reading books, learning from others such as shadowing or interviewing experts in the competency, on-the-job activities to build strength and outside pursuits. Provide a mix of training options to suit various learning styles as some people are more visual, some work better in a group, while others may learn better independently.

5. Encourage them to develop their network

Identify opportunities for people to expand their professional network. A network can be a great source of information, advice, support and inspiration. Recommend opportunities within the organisation, as well as, networking or professional groups that will help them to build strong connections. 

6. Introduce expert knowledge

Bring in industry experts for “lunch and learn” sessions to create a social learning environment that encourages employees to take a wider perspective and get inspiration from people who are already leaders in their field.

7. Match development goals to work goals

As employees plan their development, look for opportunities to match development goals to specific work projects or objectives. For example, how will achieving growth in a competency such as stronger project management skills support them in achieving set objectives within their job role? If an employee can see that their learning is having a direct impact on their ability to carry out key tasks, they are more likely to stay motivated and engaged.

8. Give them a mentor

Mentoring enables your organisation to use its existing talent to impart their knowledge and expertise to one another. Everyone benefits from the mentoring process. Check in with the employee regularly (perhaps monthly) or assign an “accountability coach” who will do this to keep the person on track and meeting developmental milestones.

9. Offer shadowing opportunities

Provide job-shadowing opportunities so employees can learn exactly what is involved in specific positions they are interested in. Also help them to explore other opportunities within the company that may be outside of their immediate scope.

10. Reward their progress

Everyone responds to a little encouragement. For example, if an employee is working on improving their communications skills and you hear or see new and positive behaviours, tell them as soon as possible to reinforce improvement.

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cHRysos HR Solutions are a UK wide HR training and consultancy company offering CIPD accredited qualifications, Apprenticeships, Training and HR Services to SMEs. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you or your teams successfully achieve further qualifications, contact us on or call 03300 562443.