Providing professional development opportunities for your team members can be risky. It can be expensive in both time lost and capital outlay, and your team members could use their paid-for education to move on to a better job—outside your company. But the alternative is not pretty. If your people aren't learning, growing, and reaching new goals, your business won't either.
You may be tempted to crunch numbers to be sure an investment like this will pay off for your company. But instead of thinking of professional development for your team as an immediate money-making opportunity, think of it as part of your culture. It's a short-term sacrifice with a long-term gain that you'll be able to measure in both dollars and improved corporate culture.
An Investing Lesson
When Dave's company was just getting started, Thomas, one of his team members, built Dave's first website, and it became clear the website would be a moneymaker for the company. Thomas soon came to Dave asking to take a $4,500 class on a new web language he would need to continue to improve Dave's website. That kind of money was a big deal, but Dave decided to go ahead and pay for Thomas to take the class.
Does your business have the right insurance? Connect with a local pro to learn more.
Just a few weeks later, Thomas got a job offer with another company for three times the salary Dave was paying him. Dave told him to pack up his desk and take the new job, with his blessing.
"Why? Because that's what I'd want someone to do for me," Dave said.
Ideas That Inspire And Save
But a professional development program doesn't have to mean a financial hit. There are many ways to offer educational opportunities that cost little or nothing.
Take EntreLeadership, for instance. It began as a once-a-week, in-house, personal and career development class based on the principles Dave and his leadership team used to run his business. What could you teach your team members in a one-hour class each week?
We asked some of our Facebook fans for some low-cost professional development ideas. They had some great input:
- "Our team sets up monthly 'personal development' conference calls, which we all take turns leading," Evelyn Gutzmer Kraynak said. "It helps all of us develop personally and professionally and fine tunes presentation skills."
- David Kemp said, "We have a book club, and we focus on different topics each month. Upon completion of each book, we are given $50 for a book report."
- Allison Fortner MacKey was so impressed with a mentoring program at her sister's company, she had to share the great idea. "The CEOs and senior management each selected one employee for a year of personal mentoring."
- "Delegate!" Drea Lyon suggested. "Have employees sometimes do assignments outside their usual scope. Give them direction, but don't meddle too much."
With a little creativity, you can come up with a professional development program of your own that fits your company's budget. While it may not pay dividends directly to your bottom line, it is one of the hiring advantages you have over corporate America. It's your opportunity to create a place where your people are growing and your business is too.
In 20 years, Dave has grown his company to a national winning brand with more than 300 team members who have impacted millions of lives. His company has been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Nashville” four years in a row. EntreLeadership is how he’s done it and how you can do it too. Get your copy of the new book now!