September, 2018

Three Ways To Focus On Employee Development

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Three Ways to Focus on Employee Development
and Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line

Originally published by Christian Valiulis on Forbes.

Employee development is a vague umbrella term frequently used in today’s business world. It can be interpreted as strict training programs or ongoing assessments to evaluate comprehension and performance, but I believe it’s much more about the continued personal investment in employees as unique and capable individuals.

As leaders, how our teams perform and thrive as professionals and how our companies rank financially are reflections of every strategic decision we make. Understanding this is essential when assessing areas for improvement and growth.

I’ve spent years in leadership roles throughout my career, and through my own personal development as a mentor and coach, there is one thing I know for certain: Employees want to work for companies that care about them. It speaks volumes to put in the time and effort to mold them into workers who reach the potential their superiors see in them. It’s empowering, flattering and motivating for employees to feel their personal growth and careers are valued.

Because of this, we must actively choose to develop, invest and foster growth in our employees. Doing so will lead to more highly skilled employees who boast higher satisfaction and productivity, ultimately improving our companies’ bottom lines.

Investing In Employees Is Investing In Your Company

In my years as a sales leader, I’ve found that employees value guidance and care. Organizations can benefit tremendously from providing that kind of support. From an employee perspective, knowing your employer will invest his or her time and energy into your development is an initial attraction that continues throughout the lifetime of employment.

For leaders, once you dedicate the time to develop your employees, it will become well-known and appreciated by your team. From there, your reputation as a superior who cares will not only attract the people you want to have working for you but will also promote loyalty among your current employees.

I’ve discovered that asking new salespeople to join the team and perform with no sense of confidence or guidance instilled in them is a fruitless effort if they don’t know how to work efficiently. By guiding them, mentoring them and most importantly caring about them, I can help them more accurately hone their skills. The result is more efficient, adept and happy workers.

With the proper development, they’ll be equipped to achieve not only the goals set for them but the overall financial goals of the company. In fact, according to CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, a formal system of coaching and enablement results in 28% higher win rates, proving that the time invested in employee growth is worth it.

Additionally, this continued investment promotes an internal promotion structure for those employees who have been groomed in your existing culture and are prepared to handle delegated tasks. Leaders can’t navigate and steer the ship if they’re always down mopping the decks with the crew. We, as mentors and decision-makers, must be able to look out over the horizon toward the future, constantly analyzing and adapting to changes. For me, focusing on employee development has resulted in capable workers who allow me to man the ship and focus on big-picture goals.

Building Employee Skills From The Ground Up

With this knowledge of success, we reflect on employee development strategies by asking ourselves, “Have I developed my employees? Have I invested in their futures and fostered growth?” As I’ve adapted and fine-tuned my development processes, I’ve seen the most growth and success with these methods:

1. Meet Every Month - Without Fail

Department-wide, we hold monthly meetings in which we discuss revenue, goals, and achievements. While this sounds like a typical and obvious necessity to ensure communication among the team, I have learned that putting a unique spin on an otherwise run-of-the-mill meeting is a simple way to further develop my employees.

I require a different team member to give a piece of the presentation each month. The opportunity to lead a portion of the meeting helps team members feel heard, empowered and recognized. They go through a process of preparation, which fosters their timeliness and communication skills. By simply giving them the chance to present their knowledge and accomplishments, you can help them grow exponentially. It’s a simple and effective approach that builds confidence and offers recognition.

2. Foster Collaborative Development

Continued collaborative development promotes company growth on the employee level as well as on the sales level because it keeps every team member’s skills sharp. If a knife keeps getting used without being sharpened every once in a while, it will eventually become dull. Salespeople are the same. Continual use of their skills — and leaving their comfort zones — ensures they can adapt to any situation.

In order to hone my team members’ skills and enhance their performance, we regularly perform role-playing exercises. Rather than relying on each member’s solitary knowledge, our team relies on peer contributions to constantly improve. Role-playing is a valuable use of our time because there are always skills waiting to be learned from others.

3. Encourage Job Shadowing Across Departments

Giving employees the opportunity to shadow positions that further their knowledge of the company on different levels ensures they won’t feel complacent in their roles. I encourage my employees to proactively advance their skills through hands-on experience and personal guidance received through peer shadowing.

This form of development, again, strengthens employees’ communication skills and empowers them. They feel they are worth being brought into several facets of the business, and their improved business knowledge will only benefit the company’s performance.

Build A Strong Foundation

At the end of the day, what is a business without its employees? Your employees are the foundation of your organization. A company’s accomplishments depend on those who have been invested in and invest in achieving a unified mission. Focusing on those who are the lifeline of the company only makes sense — after all, a building is only as strong as its foundation.

About Christian Valiulis

Chief Revenue Officer Christian Valiulis at APS is a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. As a national human capital management and full-service payroll processing company, APS delivers a unified cloud solution backed by guaranteed payroll tax compliance services. Christian oversees marketing and sales, channel partnerships, and strategic product and service alliances. Connect with him on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with his most recent publications.

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