I think it's really important that we develop ourselves and others because it helps us understand ourselves and push past the edges of our comfort zone. In addition, employees often rate development opportunities higher than promotion. And, 70% of development is done on the job. But, when money gets tight, the first thing to go is the development process. So how can you develop your team without blowing the budget?
Coaching and/or mentoring
Setting up a formal or informal mentoring scheme can help your employees develop themselves both as mentees and as mentors. You might choose mentors within the same area or from another part of the business.
Coaching is on the same spectrum as mentoring but it is subtly different. A mentor shares their own knowledge, whereas a coach will guide someone on their goals and help them reach their full potential.
You might take on the coaching role as the leader or you might delegate it out to another member of the team. There are training providers that can provide coaching qualifications but it’s also worth asking in your network for any coaching
Whether coaching or mentoring, the most important skill you need is to listen (more difficult than it seems!).
Open and honest environment
Building your team, with a grounding in trust helps create an open and honest environment where you can give and receive direct feedback – both positive and improvement feedback (and not shy away from tough conversations). This allows folks to raise their concerns and address mistakes in a non-judgemental space.
Make time for 1:1 time with each team member to understand what makes them tick, allow them to acknowledge and develop their strengths and to identify any gaps and make a plan to close them. YOu can use this time to talk about things outside work too - if that’s something you both want to discuss. People want to feel heard and understood in all aspects of their life.
Time for reflection
When we're busy, we often forget to reflect. In fact, we actively don’t reflect, instead, moving straight from project to project and rarely making time to reflect on our own career goals. Instead, encourage your team members (and yourself) to take regular time out to think about what’s important to them, to take a break between projects and to celebrate their successes. This could be ten minutes on a Monday morning or a monthly half day. Although it can seem like another thing to add to the schedule, the research shows that it can actually save time, improve efficiency and reduce stress.
These circles are an opportunity to come together as a group and share your knowledge and your story - or listen to other people’s. They might have a specific topic such as product innovation or new techniques for an area of your business. They might be done via email, chat rooms or in-person through lunches or business book clubs.
When we think of job rotation we tend to think of graduate schemes but job rotation can be used at any stage of your career. It involves sending an employee to work in a different team, function or another office for a period of 6-12 months. It’s an excellent way of building networks, developing cross-functional knowledge and understanding and creating a career as a generalist. On a personal level it can also allow you to experience different kinds of work/skills so that you can decide if they are something you want to develop in your career.
Job shadowing tends to happen over a couple of days or up to a couple of weeks and involves spending time observing someone in their job to get a basic understanding of what they're doing.
From podcasts to online courses or even a good old fashioned book, there are so many free/low-cost ways to learn. You could get each team member to learn something new and share what they've found. This might mean shadowing someone more senior within the same function or shadowing someone in a different function altogether to learn more about the nature of their role and how it intersects with the individual’s role and other roles in the organisation.
Stretch assignments are given to an individual to allow them to go beyond their normal role to stretch themselves in a new way – whether that is tackling a problem with a higher level of ambiguity, complexity, visibility, or all of the above. When an employee has mastered her role, by definition, she has stopped stretching. Stretch assignments will feel uncomfortable or even scary, and should also involve appropriate coaching and feedback so the individual feels sufficiently supported and it’s not a ‘sink or swim’ situation.
Stretch assignments can be an opportunity for you to delegate an interesting project from your to-do list based on the employee’s skills and own goals for career development.
Focus on a growth mindset
One of the theories we're seeing more and more is that of fixed Vs growth mindset by Professor Carol Dweck. I saw it most prominently during the Olympics this year when the athletes talked about the journey, their gratitude for being there and how this would teach them and guide their training for Paris 2024.
It can be a powerful tool in the workplace too.
By considering the tips above you will automatically develop a growth mindset and this will encourage these behaviours:
- Motivated to learn and improve with feedback
- Able to change and adapt skills, behaviours and attitudes faster
- Inspired by their teammates’ achievements
- Willing to share knowledge and help others succeed
If you have any other thoughts about how to develop your team without blowing the budget, please share them below.