When times are tough, the first area that businesses cut costs on is learning and development but there are ways to develop your team without a budget. Here’s how.
In any business, whether it be a start-up company that is finding its feet, or a large corporation with offices scattered across the globe, when times are tough, learning and development (L&D) budgets are the first to be cut or put on hold.
Sending employees away to training days and conferences can incur many costs, such as the price of the course, having workers away from the office, and travel fees. When work is busy, employees may simply not have the time to focus on their L&D, or so they believe.
But developing the skills of your team doesn’t always require a budget. Here we take a look at how you can continue the learning of your employees regardless of costs.
One way to help your staff develop is to mentor them. Having regular meetings to see how they are getting along, helping them with any questions they have, and suggesting solutions and ways of working can really help. Once your relationship has developed, your team will feel more comfortable in coming forward with any issues they want to discuss.
When an employee is mentored by someone who is senior to them and has more knowledge and experience, they are more likely to take advice on board, than from someone who is working at the same level.
The mentoring of staff also works with providing workers with frequent feedback. Managers must be direct with their feedback - both positive and negative. While it’s important for managers to highlight areas where staff need to improve, instead of just pointing these out, they should help their staff come up with a strategy to resolve this issue.
It’s also important to remember that providing feedback and coaching staff isn’t just about telling people what to do. Managers will have to be engaged and listen to what their employees have to say by helping them think through their own situations and come up with the right answer.
When businesses think of L&D, they typically think of expenses. But e-learning and online training courses allow employees to work in their own time, for a reduced price. This cuts out time spent traveling and hours away from work, while generally being more effective than traditional learning methods.
E-learning also often takes a blended learning approach, which means incorporating multimedia as a learning method. Users can watch videos, play interactive games, answer quiz questions and read online articles - increasing their engagement and catering to how they learn. Online courses can also be completed in your employee's own time, when it suits them, with no stress to complete the course in a short timeframe.
Naturally, employees can become very comfortable in their work environments, with day-to-day work being repetitive and sometimes not challenging them and helping them develop. This is why it is important for managers to mix things up from time to time. Sending employees to a new team, department, role or geographic office for a period of 6-12 months can provide great development experience.
By doing this, your team will be able to build cross-functional knowledge and understanding as well as learning to working with all types of characters and leaders.
In any business, workers at every level should look back on their projects and reflect. As a manager, it’s a good idea to regularly encourage the reflection of team projects. You can do this by coming together as a group and asking questions like: What worked well? What didn’t go to plan? What would we do differently in future?
This will help managers gain insight into the mind of their team as well as helping their employees learn from each other and communicate.