The most important skill that a good manager must have is the ability to nurture and develop their employees. But for a number of reasons, this task is often overlooked and generally found right at the bottom of many managers to do list.
Developing your workforce comes with many advantages that benefit you directly. Smarter employees need way less oversight, and they will definitely become more productive, which in turn will reflect very well on your own performance review. By developing your employees, you will also find it easier to keep top performers as well as attract new talent to your team.
Finally, you will be able to delegate tasks more confidently because you trust that your employees are well capable of performing to the level required. This in turn will free your time to focus on other aspects of management and develop your own skills as well.
To help you get started, here are the best ways to develop your workforce.
- Start with yourself
Before even thinking about developing others, it is important that you work on developing yourself. Consider which areas you may need to improve on in your role as manager. Maybe you could learn to delegate more, communicate more clearly, be more empathetic, less controlling, more trusting of your employees, or you may need to learn a new skill or update an old one, etc. Once you have identified your problem areas you can start finding the proper solutions. This will help you feel more confident about being able to develop others as well as being seen like a true mentor, instead of coming across as a hypocrite.
- Create Learning Opportunities
A common misconception is that employee development happens just once a year at the annual review. Or that this process is entirely the HR department’s responsibility. You need to start by getting rid of these two ideas, because they are wrong. The truth is that employee development is an ongoing process that should happen every day, at every single interaction. You need to fully adopt a development mindset and find ways of including this purpose in every meeting, project check-in, review, and any regular contact you have with your employees.
- Delegate Proper Developmental Assignments
You are probably doing many tasks that you feel comfortable doing, even if you know you should be delegating them instead. By learning how to properly delegate you will help develop your employees greatly, keep in mind that there will always be a learning curve and that people will take some time to perform at a comparable level than you, but with enough time and coaching you might just find that employees are doing a better job than you.
Be careful to not only delegate proper developmental assignments to your employees. This means not choosing the most qualified person for a task, but to think about how the task will help each team member develop the skills they are currently lacking.
- Provide Constant Feedback
Developing your employees is a very demanding, but also very rewarding activity. But it takes more than just delegating tasks and finding teaching opportunities. In order to make this process as effective as possible, you need to provide your employees with constant feedback. There are many ways to go about this but the core idea is that you make time for one-on-one sessions with each employee so you can provide feedback and keep them invested by showing them clearly where you are taking them and what they need to get there.