Tips for Emerging Leaders: Employee Development 

This is part seven of a 12-part series. 

Successfully leading a team can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a professional’s career. However, addressing a diverse group effectively can be difficult for new leaders. From open communication and recognition to delegation and empowerment to self-awareness and empathy, there are a plethora of leadership arrows professionals must carry in their quivers to be successful. So during this series, we will examine 12 areas of focus and reveal practical tips to help new leaders in some of the most important aspects of leadership. Seventh up: employee development. 

Employee Development 

Building a strong, talented team isn’t all about bringing in new outside talent, but rather developing from within. In a recent report from LinkedIn, 51% of Learning and Development professionals said internal mobility is more of a priority now than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, employees stay with companies that focus on mobility nearly twice as long as those that don’t. The study also found that 76% of Gen Z workers cite learning as the key to a successful career. Encouraging a focus on lifelong learning within an organization can not only clamp down on turnover and disengagement, but it can also drive satisfaction and productivity. As a new leader, learning how to implement successful employee development programs is imperative to sustained business growth. 

  1. Provide Internal Training 

LinkedIn found that “learners who use social features—Q&A, course shares, and learning groups—watch 30x more hours of learning content than learners who don’t.” Simply put, training and development is more effective when employees learn together. One example of group learning is internal training. Through specific tracks, including quality, safety, cultural, communication, and conflict management, organizations can provide timely and relevant training to help employees grow in their soft skills, leadership knowledge, and overall professional skill sets. If your organization is large enough to have a Human Resources department, consider providing monthly or quarterly training on compliance or workforce solutions. Bringing in an outside consultant can also be effective in teaching a specific topic. 

  1. Encourage Outside Development 

According to a Lorman study, 59% of employees said they didn’t receive workplace training and “most of their skills were self-taught.” Yet, 74% cited a willingness to develop new skills or re-skill to remain employable. While internal group training can be effective with soft skills and workplace management, many workers may need to seek outside development to focus on their skill sets. Encouraging employees to join job-specific professional organizations, as well as seek professional certifications to further develop in their careers, can help provide the training needed for continued professional growth. If your company has the means, consider subsidizing professional organization dues and fees to further entice employees to seek outside development. Attending conferences can also be an effective way to learn new skills and connect with industry experts. And if cost is an issue, there are plenty of free training videos and seminars from organizations like TED Talks and Coursera to offer your employees. 

  1. Provide Peer Coaching Opportunities 

Finally, providing a peer coach training program can be one of the best hands-on training you can give your employees. When new hires are in the introduction and onboarding stage of employment, team them up with other star employees for one-on-one peer coaching. Training and developing new employees can be timely and costly; however, by providing one-on-one coaching, you not only expedite the onboarding process, you also give on-the-job leadership training for the coach. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science pointed out the benefits of this type of development: “Perhaps most exciting is the prospect that peer coaching can significantly support leaders and leadership development in a variety of settings. Leaders will experience transformational learning as they build new relationships that lead to mutual learning and development and experience the benefits related to sustainable change.” When developing a peer coach program, be clear about expectations and provide your coach with the tools needed to be successful while helping others onboard. 

What are some important training and development tips you’ve learned during your career? How has a focus on employee development helped you lead a successful team? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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