Manager skills: developing employees

Keith Tatley

Growth is a wonderful double-edged management ninja sword. Because growth is good for both your employees and it’s good for you, the boss. But did you know that one of the unwritten responsibilities of a boss is that you have to ensure that your employees have the skills they need to do their job and are always working to improve? This is why employee development is one of the essential manager skills. But the problem is that school doesn’t teach you the skills you need to be Super Boss. And employee development gets left to HR. This article will show you why & how to use employee development as a management tool to increase results and retention. It contains information from the program on the Go1 Academy: How to Develop Your Employees


PS: Are you responsible for Learning & Development in your organisation? Help to build a culture of learning in your organisation by sharing this article with your managers.

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Why employee development is essential for employees:

Your employees are complicated animals. You can’t just give them a paycheck and a ping-pong table and expect them to be happy, productive employees. Creating a workplace where people want to work and are good at their jobs means fulfilling your employees need for growth.

  • Your employees have a desire to learn and grow
  • Your employees like a challenge
  • Your employees are motivated by doing things they are good at and
  • Developing skills helps your employees become self-actualised

To put this another way, your top performers will get bored and leave if they are stagnant. Less experienced managers try to motivate employees with pay and bonuses. But successful managers know that quality employees choose growth over short term pay.

Why employee development is essential for managers:

I remember a time when you weren’t a proper business if you didn’t have a fax machine. But business is competitive with unrelenting progress. If you think your employees have all the skills they need, then you may as well be waiting by your fax machine for an update. And if you think employee development is a job for Human Resources alone and not managers, then you will soon watch your competitors overtake you. It’s your jab as a boss job to deliver, maintain and grow results. And one of the best ways you can do this is to develop the skills & capabilities of your employees. Because:

  • Increasing skills delivers results with increased speed and quality,
  • Increasing capabilities supports delegation so you can manage your own workload,
  • A constantly changing competitive & technological environment means your employees need to constantly develop their skills and
  • Learning promotes innovation & problem solving

Less experienced managers view skills development as a “nice to have”. They leave skills development to Human Resources for “when they have the time”. Successful bosses partner with Human Resources to take an active role in developing their employees’ skills. This is because they know that developing skills delivers results. Effective managers know that employee development is an effective tool to motivate and retain top talent.

But I don’t have the time for that.

I get it, employee development sounds time-consuming, where can managers find the time to develop employees? This is really the wrong question, because the true problem is that no-one ever taught you how to develop employees or any of the other essential manager skills. Because employee development can be as simple as a ten-minute conversation about the future. And you don’t even have to book extra meeting time because the best place to do this in your in your regular one on one meeting with your employee. (Not having one on one meetings with your employees – well of course you won’t have time to develop your employees!)

3 Actions you can take to develop your employees:

Because I believe in actionable advice, here are easy 3 actions you can take to kick start your employee development right away:

  1. Have a ten-minute development conversation with each of your employees. Tell them what skills you want them to develop. Collaborate to produce a training contract
  2. Delegate a growth assignment to your employees. This is something that will support their next career step or is a challenge that gives them a chance to use their skills. Helpful resource: The Ultimate Guide to Delegation
  3. Pick a skill you want your employees to learn/improve and use the Go1 feature to assign a Go1 training course to them. Tip: Don’t forget the human touch, follow up the course assignment with a conversation explaining why, what your expectations are and what’s in it for them.

Top tip: Looking for a good place to start? Choose something short/fun/informative/helpful. Here are some relevant Go1 courses to assign:

a. Have better meetings with your employees by assigning One on One Meetings with your Boss

b. Improve your employees focus, stress management and more by assigning Desk Meditations

Super Ninja Manager Skills Tip:

Super ninja manager skills are where you use momentum to go with the flow, instead of fighting against the tide. When it comes to skills development, it sometimes feels like you are pushing uphill to develop your employees’ skills. The smarter way is to help your employees to develop themselves by assigning Self Leadership: Developing Yourself.

Be the boss your employees deserve

I just want to leave you with this final thought: Have you ever had a mentor (a boss, teacher, coach, etc.) that invested in you?

  • Someone that guided you through your career path,
  • Someone who knew what you were capable of and supported you to achieve your potential, and
  • Someone who pushed you to be better when you needed a little extra encouragement.

What difference did this make to your performance? How meaningful is this person to you? When you are a boss, you have an opportunity to make a difference to your employee’s lives. And this isn’t just because it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling but also because it makes fantastic business sense. This is the difference you can make when you invest in developing your employees

Note: employee development and online learning by Go1

I don’t work for Go1, I work with Go1 to help businesses deliver results via improved soft skills. Go1 is a fantastic resource where you and your employees can access training for almost any development need. But giving your employees access to an online library and expecting them to develop themselves into happy, productive employees is not realistic (Hot tip: How’s your own online development going?). To make the best use of online development tools such as Go1, don’t forget the human touch. Such as: Encouraging and supporting employees through their development. Helping them to choose the right development for them and their career.

The concept is to leave the time-consuming training to the subject matter experts on Go1 and you do the less time-consuming parts of coaching your employees through their development.

About the author:

Keith Tatley is a Chartered Accountant and Yoga Teacher. He helps people to have successful and happy careers by showing them the soft skills that people need to be effective in the workplace.

Headline skills that people need for better relationships between employees and their bosses include:

Keith operates the brands www.ManagerFoundation.com, Karm.Academy and WWW.BOSS.CAMP . Contact him at Keitht@ManagerFoundation.com for consulting on how to create better work environments.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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