When you manage a team, you have to focus on more than just the present. While your goal is obviously to win the day and be as productive or profitable as possible, a long-term view is necessary. By investing in your team’s growth and development, you can enjoy even bigger gains down the road. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Lead by Example
The first step is pretty simple. If you’re going to ask your team to adopt a posture of growth and development, you must make it part of your identity as well. In other words, you need to lead by example.
Leading by example looks like constantly challenging yourself. Try new things; take classes to acquire new skills; attend conferences, etc. The more you do these things, the more your team will embrace growth as normal.
2. Pair Employees With Mentors
One way to encourage individual team members to grow is by developing mentorship relationships within your company. This is where you pair up younger and less experienced individuals with someone who has a lot more experience and knowledge. It helps both individuals grow (albeit in different ways).
As entrepreneur Kathy close explains, “Mentoring should be seen as an honor for both mentor and mentee. It should be a partnership, stretching the mentor in his or her role and area of expertise while developing the professional skills of the trainee.”
Not everyone is ready to be a mentor or a mentee. A good mentor is someone who (a) shows a genuine interest in helping others, (b) has good people skills, (3) has the knowledge or skills that the mentee needs to acquire, and (4) is patient and not domineering.
A good mentee is someone who (a) wants to grow, (b) is interested in learning, (3) is a good listener, and (4) is open to constructive criticism and feedback.
3. Give Them the Proper Resources
Not all development is as formal as a mentoring relationship or continuing education. Much of it happens in those “in-between” moments where an employee is exposed to important information and concepts.
Accelerate your team’s growth by giving them a list of several publications and online resources they should read on a daily basis in order to stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry. For example, tech professionals should read Tech Report two or three times per week to make sure they’re tracking important trends. An accountant, however, would benefit from reading Accounting Today. It’s all about connecting the right people with the right knowledge.
4. Invest in Professional Trainingz
There’s something to be said for exposing your team to professional training several times per year. This is where you call someone in from outside the company to educate your team on a new skill or trend. The key is to bring in a fresh voice from outside the company. You want someone who has a unique way of thinking.
5. Cross-Train Employees
Most of your employees have pretty consistent and predictable job responsibilities. In other words, your marketing team focuses on marketing work, while your IT guys focus on IT. However, there’s something to be said for cross-training employees to understand other aspects of the business. Not only does this give you more flexibility in a bind, but it also stretches your employees and forces them to reach beyond their comfort zones.
6. Conduct Regular Performance Reviews
How often do you conduct performance reviews for your team? While they can be awkward and blunt, reviews are essential to helping people grow. We recommend scheduling at least two per employee per year – though you’ll benefit even more from doing it once per quarter.
During performance reviews, start with the good things they’re doing. Then touch on areas for improvement. Finally, end on a positive note by expressing your gratitude for them and the job they’re doing.
Give Your Team a Boost
Your team is counting on you. No matter how talented, skilled, or experienced they are, they need you to give them opportunities to grow and develop. Otherwise, they’ll become bored, stagnant, and ineffective.
Try implementing at least a couple of these tips over the next month and see what happens. You’ll almost certainly like the results.