In my last post, I discussed the benefits of investing in employee development and training. Here are some strategies for cultivating your team.

Start with management. People quit bosses, not jobs. Before you can develop others, you must develop your management. Without that, they won’t come across as a genuine leader and mentor, nor will they have the skills to effectively lead, motivate and develop their own team.

Start with the development of your managers, which I liken to throwing a rock into a pond. There is a ripple effect that extends through their department and, ultimately, the company. Stronger managers lead to more effective communication, more productive team outputs and increased employee engagement.

Learn to delegate. Many managers spend time on work that isn’t their responsibility, often because they feel that if they don’t do it themselves, it won’t be done right.

Delegating tasks to employees not only frees managers’ time but also helps employees develop vital job skills and competencies. The biggest challenge with this is that managers must accept that the work may be done differently than they would do it — but as long as the results are satisfactory, the process doesn’t matter. Allow employees to learn, make mistakes and reach the results in the way that works for them.

Build trust and respect. Employees need to feel comfortable discussing their strengths and areas for improvement without feeling like their job is at risk. You’re not looking for an underhanded way to get them to admit weaknesses; you want to have open conversations about ways they can improve and grow.

Show employees you’re invested in their success and have open conversations about training and development. If you can build this trust and respect, you’re inspiring them to take ownership of the process and strive to do more.

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Be consistent with 1:1s. Employee development shouldn’t be something you visit once a year during a performance review, nor is it something that you can leave to the human resources department. Every interaction, whether a project check-in or a review, is a chance to develop your team. Unfortunately, with workload volumes as high as they are, consistent employee 1:1s are increasingly harder to conduct.

Weekly, biweekly or monthly 1:1 meetings are an opportunity to involve employees in the development conversation and provide a quality forum to help them curate their career goals. Make learning and development part of the conversation, always, to encourage your employees to take an active role in their growth.

Offer regular feedback. Managers must provide regular feedback outside of performance reviews to help employees see their weaknesses and learn how to improve. Managers and leaders often have the skills to help employees see areas for improvement in a tactful way, without negatively impacting their advancement.

Make feedback part of the process for your managers and employees, and encourage sharing feedback in return. Your employees may have valuable insights into how your management or business can improve, and listening to that feedback pays off in more open communication overall.

Invest in your team. In-person training works well for employee engagement, but it may not always be a choice for the current work environment. Employees now work remotely or with a hybrid schedule, making it challenging to attend in-person training sessions. It’s also difficult for you to have your team spending time in training sessions together, rather than completing tasks.

Virtual training programs are flexible, but they are not always engaging. With the time investment, you may land with employees that lost interest or haven’t gained a wealth of skills.

Build employee skills for the future of your business. If you want to build a strong team, you need to invest in your employees and their success. At a time when talent is more difficult to attract and retain, investing in your team’s future success pays off in employee satisfaction and productivity and profitability for your business. This means more than just offering manager training programs and sessions, you should build a culture around learning and striving for success.

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