It’s no secret that the key to a company’s success is its people. But when it comes to acquiring top talent, what’s your approach? Are you hiring top performers out-of-the gate, or are you building from within?
In an article for Forbes related to “tech talent”, our CEO, Tammi Kroll, writes:
“Great tech talent is more than just a well-performing employee. There is a minor, but important, difference between employees who are high performers and those who are tech champions. It’s not a fancy degree or the ability to execute, but instead passion and aptitude to learn. In my experience, a great developer will work harder and stay longer if you take the time to develop them.”
Tammi’s comment is not limited to tech, however, it’s a valuable strategy for any business leader. Creating a learning environment that empowers enthusiastic team members to grow paves the way for deeper institutional knowledge, improved retention, and a more agile company that’s able to adapt to change.
While, below, we go into numerous pathways to invest in talent at your company, it’s important to note that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Again, Tammi puts it best:
“Ask yourself: Do you know what your employees are passionate about? What do they like to do in their free time? The answers to these questions could surprise you as they’ve surprised me”.
Not only that, part of investing in your team is removing barriers to their development. Be it time, money, or access to training. “After all, providing your team with training opportunities and granting time off for boot camps, seminars and hack days is only going to benefit your company in the end”.
Opportunities for Employee Development
Provide Training Resources
Firstly, you can give your employees opportunities to train or learn new and important skill sets as they relate to your products and industry by providing learning resources. Perhaps it’s a small library of books, or consider carving out a little time each quarter for all of your employees to learn a new skill, or attend a class.
At Gravity, different departments offer regular “boot camps” for interested employees to learn how another department, or a product, works. It’s a great, low-cost way to encourage further learning and employee interaction (particularly in our remote-first environment).
Seminars and Conferences
Conferences and trade events bring buyers and sellers together, and are a great way to participate in in-person learning from industry experts and peers. Aside from these learning opportunities, these give employees the chance to network and collaborate with peers, plus learn more about their industry and its most recent developments.
Build a Mentorship Program
Employment is a two-way street. Creating an environment where your talent contributes to company growth and gets what they need out of the experience is important. Building and implementing a mentorship program where you match new and more experienced employees fosters community and more focused employee development opportunities.
In doing this, you’ll have employees ready to be promoted whenever a managerial position opens up, and those workers will be more than motivated to apply. Hiring new executives or supervisors from within your organization is expedient, cost-effective, and can be a key driver of employee retention.
Give Employees an Educational Stipend
If you have a bit of spare cash, consider giving your employees a quarterly or yearly educational stipend, even if it’s just a few hundred dollars. Tell your employees they have to use the money for classes, certificates, or other educational materials, and the money will certainly not be wasted.
You can think of it as investing directly in your employees’ training, but you also give your employees the freedom to decide what they learn and how quickly they learn it.
Lean Into Cross-Training
Cross-training is a particularly good way to invest in employee development. In a nutshell, this involves teaching your employees skills from different departments or positions, cultivating flexibility and versatility in your workforce.
This is good for your employees, as it means they’ll be able to expand their skill sets and transfer into different departments and positions much more fluidly.
At Gravity, many of our team members have moved through different roles and have found specialties where they thrive – now contributing as high-performing project managers, developers, and leaders.
Bonus: Review Employees Regularly (and Less Formally)
To develop your employees, try to have managers and executives review those employees and have meet-ups to go over their progress more regularly than you currently do. These don’t have to be formal reviews, but they give your employees the chance to ask questions about what they could do better, what they are currently enjoying, and where they see room for further growth.
Ultimately, how you deploy these techniques depends on what success looks like at your company, But the foundation of each of these techniques can help your employees become more effective, more productive, and create more value. Speaking from experience, focusing on employee development, will allow you to reap the benefits of a more skilled workforce.