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How to develop your employees without a big budget

Season 1: Finding and keeping great people

Antoinette Oglethorpe Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker

How to develop your employees without a big budget

You want to develop your employees, but you don’t have a big budget. That’s understandable – developing employees is one of the most important things you can do for your business, and it’s worth investing in.

When you invest in your employees, you invest in your business. You invest in the fact that they’re working for you, and they’re working hard. You invest in the fact that they’re learning new things, and that they’re growing. You invest in the fact that you’re helping them to succeed, and you’re helping them to achieve their goals.

You can develop your employees without spending a lot of money

If you’re starting a business, you might have a limited budget for employee development. You might only have one or two people on the team, and you might be very busy running the business. In that case, you won’t be able to fund many different employee development programmes. And if you’re in a larger business, you might not have enough money to invest in employee development programmes for everyone. But you can still develop your employees without spending a lot of money.

Employee development is not just about formal training programmes

It doesn’t take a formal training programme for employees to develop the skills and experience needed to progress. As a manager, you can integrate development into everyday activities. That will help improve employee satisfaction. At the same time, you’ll improve the performance and productivity of your team.

Here are four approaches that contribute to professional growth and development:

  1. Job content and responsibilities. Development opportunities are not just found in training classes and seminars. You can have a significant impact on an employee’s development through the responsibilities in an employee’s current job. Employees will learn by doing – by working on real problems and dilemmas. It may be an entirely new job, or a responsibility added to an existing job such as a short-term project. The key rule is challenge. It must be something that stretches people, pushes them out of their comfort zones, and requires them to think and act differently.
  2. Feedback and mentoring. One of the most powerful development options is learning through interaction with others. They can provide feedback and share information. They can coach and challenge. And they can praise, support and reinforce. As their manager, you have an important role to play in helping them develop. Mentoring is also a very powerful tool for professional development and often has huge benefits for the mentor as well as the mentee.
  3. Internal training and development. There are lots of opportunities for employees to help each other develop their knowledge and skills. Internal training and development bring a special plus. The examples used and the terminology reflect the culture and environment of your workplace in a way that external training does not.
  4. External Training and Development. To help employees develop new skills and bring new ideas into your organisation, some external training is a must, but it doesn’t have to be costly. You can find lots of affordable training opportunities online or through professional associations. When employees attend external training, it’s important to get the most value out of them. That requires them to share information with others to extend the value of the company’s investment. They might discuss their learning with colleagues or document it in some way. Or they may present it to them in an internal training session.

As you can see from the breadth and depth of development opportunities, there are many ways you can help your employees grow and develop. The options are limited only by your imagination.

Make time for growth and development

As a final point, it’s important that you make time for growth and development. Stretch assignments, new responsibilities, coaching, mentoring and training can be great learning opportunities. But you must be realistic. If you’re adding new responsibilities and activities into someone’s role, you must figure out how to offload other things to make room for it. Otherwise, it becomes punishing not developmental. By doing so, you can help create the job they want instead of watching them find it at another company.

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