The impact of leadership on successful staff development

As new regulations, emerging technology and changing account holder service expectations continue to impact the everyday responsibilities of employees – from the corner office to the teller line to the back office – maintaining a knowledgeable staff that is current with the necessary skill sets is critical for remaining competitive, let alone achieving competitive advantage.

According to a 2013 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 88 percent of organizations contacted offered their staff some form of professional development opportunities. While this indicates a healthy commitment by employers to focus resources on training opportunities that empower employees to update their skills, the success of such initiatives is often closely tied to an organization’s corporate environment, and how much value management places on creating a learning and growing workforce..

The commitment starts at the top

Providing the resources necessary to offer timely training opportunities to keep your staff up-to-speed on what they need to know to do their jobs more efficiently is a good beginning. But it takes more than just informing your employees about the latest seminar or online training to establish a successful learning culture.

Organizational leaders serve as the motivating factor for successful staff development by keeping a persistent focus on continuous employee improvement. Once you have identified areas where you believe training can lead to better results, i.e., compliance, increased office efficiency, technology, leadership or enhanced service, don’t just talk about the need to improve. Take steps to provide avenues for staff to get the training and additional knowledge they need to feel empowered to change the way they function.

Involve employees in the solution

And while you may have an opinion about what type of training is needed – based on your observations and experiences of working with individual employees – take the time to gather input regarding what those employees think they need to do their jobs more effectively. They will be much more willing to focus their time and attention on the training – and you will most likely see better results by involving them in the process – than if you base training plans solely on your assumptions.

Identify opportunities to meet employee needs

Keep in mind that to be most effective, training opportunities need to occur during a timeframe that does not interfere with daily business responsibilities. Schedule sessions at different times of the day or after hours or on weekends to ensure that everyone who is interested can participate without disrupting their work. Also, keep in mind that people learn in different ways; so while an online webinar might work just fine for Millennials or tech-savvy employees, Baby Boomers may be more comfortable with on-site, in-person training options.

Set consistent, equal expectations for all employees

While there may be instances when select employees are offered specialized training – due to their job responsibilities or interest in advancement – make sure you provide learning opportunities for all employees. Regardless of a job title, all staff need to know that management sees the value they bring to the organization and is committed to helping them increase their skill set to be a productive team member going forward.

Reinforce your commitment to excellence by participating alongside employees

Set a good example. While you may think that you know everything about what is going on in the everyday business of your organization, your participation in training sessions will reinforce to your staff that you are serious about improving the organization and committed to building a true team environment. Plus, you just might learn something that will make your job a little easier or enlighten you as to the realities of the working conditions of those under your management.

Gather feedback to gauge whether the training is effective

Time is precious to everyone today so make sure employees benefit from the training. Provide a feedback sheet that allows participants to rate the training and provide ideas on any improvements that might be made. Once you have received the feedback, take it seriously and make the necessary alterations to the training mode or materials to ensure that your enrichment initiatives are successful going forward.

Also, to reinforce that you are committed to maintaining a healthy, productive workplace, make sure you follow up to ensure that processes are in place to support employees’ ability to implement what they have learned.

The benefits of your efforts will abound:

Depending on the type of training that is needed and the number of employees involved, effective staff development will come with additional expenses. But making staff development an on-going part of your employee enrichment and retention playbook is an investment in the future success of your organization that can lead to the following results:

Employees who are empowered to stretch their abilities and reach their potential;

Improved overall performance and account holder service;

Reduced turnover; and

The creation of future leaders.

In an ever-evolving industry, staff development opportunities are valuable tools for helping employees advance in their careers and feel more energized when they come to work every day. Beyond that, you’ll have a more knowledgeable workforce that can be key to helping your institution reach its strategic goals.