Why would I invest in developing people?

What if I invest in developing people and then they leave? What if you don’t and then they stay? Which of those two scenarios do you prefer? In my view, the first is the only option. Sure they might leave eventually but it depends on you. When people feel part of a community of like-minded people, when they are growing and developing new opportunities and they are contributing to something bigger than themselves, they’ll be happy to stay. All of those aspects are completely within your control.

Sure, maybe your organisation is not growing fast enough to facilitate that growth for everyone. If you consistently invest in developing your people and they stay just an extra one or two years as a result, your investment would have certainly paid dividends.

If and when they do leave be proud because they will be the best advertisement for your business. Certain businesses like Ikea encourage their people to go and work for another company as part of their development. If you invested in developing your people like that they will come back with new skills and will enrich your company once again. Apart from everything, it is incredibly satisfying to see someone you have developed spread their wings. What follows are 5 essential aspects of developing people.

1. Make Time for Developing your People

Developing people often doesn’t seem to be a high enough priority. Unfortunately, I hear often “oh my boss has just postponed our meeting. AGAIN!” or “I have been here for 4 months and I haven’t had a one on one conversation with my boss yet” or even “I can’t even remember the last time I had a one on one with my boss”. Make developing people a priority, schedule time and make it happen.  Keep your times so that the employee can rely on it. It gives certainty, builds trust and shows you really care about their development.

2. Demonstrate Interest in them

When developing people be interested in them as a person, in their vision and what is important to them today, in their next 12 months, in their life and in their career. Remember it. Have a clear context for each one of your team members so you can cross check their decisions in relation to their vision. That way you will ensure, that you are developing people in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. Understand what is going on for them right now. Get clear on their communication preferences so you can communicate with them in a way that they hear you best. Check in with them informally from time to time. Developing people might even mean that you send them an article that might be of interest to them. This will build even more trust.

3. Add Value where you can

Train, Coach and Mentor them depending on what they need. Not everyone wants a teacher or trainer, they might want you to be a coach and some may want a mentor, to hear from your experiences, how you did it. Get clear on what role works best for developing each of your employees. It will be different depending on what stage of development the employee is in. Reflect what you see, raise their awareness, and encourage self-reflection. Build their confidence and give them responsibility. Encourage decision-making and remove the fear of mistakes. Open doors and connect them with people they might need to meet or know.

4. Manage Energy and Flow

Flow happens when challenge and skill are matched. Is the challenge too small that people are bored? Is the challenge too big for the current skill level that panic sets in? When developing your people maintain a balance and always increase skills in line with the challenges you give them.

5. Feedback and Acknowledgment

Finally, when developing your people make sure you always give constructive feedback. Reinforce the learning they had from making mistakes. Acknowledge their effort, their ideas, and their progress. Do it regularly, as people can forget praise within 7 days. Acknowledge them publicly, it will drive them and others to want to grow and achieve even more. And most importantly celebrate the successes they were able to achieve as a result of their development.

And remember, the more you help others succeed, the more you and your organisation will succeed.

Insightful, creative and strategic facilitator for management teams and boards and Sparring Partner for Top Executives.
Energising business growth and performance through alignment of strategy and culture and integrating culture transformation and leadership development in English and German since 2000.
Over 25 years of international business experience as an entrepreneur, managing director and advisor.