Running A Business

Employee Development Tips for 2019

Jul 24, 2019 • 5 min read
Impactful coaching motivates and grows employees
Table of Contents

      Most business owners would like to think of themselves as mentors. After all, the majority of entrepreneurs have personally benefited from the wisdom and resources of a mentor. Whether it’s altruistic or ego-driven, they most likely want to return the favor to someone else on the way up.

      The unfortunate thing is that while a business owner is scouting out a promising young entrepreneur through their network, they may be neglecting their employees. And doing so comes at your hazard.

      While employees of nearly all stripes appreciate development opportunities, they’re particularly important to the rising generation. Research shows that 90% of Millennials prioritize “career growth and development opportunities.” Although your young employees want you to help them grow, they don’t seem to feel it’s happening enough. The same study found that only 39% of respondents reported learning something new on the job in the past month.

      What happens when employees feel like they’re atrophying? Engagement follows suit. So it’s unsurprising that the effectiveness of managers in developing their teams accounts for about 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.

      Experts agree that for coaching and development to be effective, it must be customized. To do this, you’ll need to keep tabs on your employees. Write down their goals. Pay attention to their feedback. Gauge their potential. Make notes about their motivators.

      “Take 15 minutes at the end of each week to think about your team members,” recommends the Harvard Business Review. “Note any new information you’ve uncovered, specific interactions you’ve had, and steps you’ve taken to coach, teach, provide support, and so on. If you find it hard to remember details, keep a notebook dedicated specially to your coaching efforts, jot down thoughts in real time, and consult them when making these updates.”

      As you make efforts to understand, guide, and motivate your employees, development opportunities will arise more organically. Here are several tips for providing the kind of impactful coaching that inspires employees and boosts your bottom line.

      Don’t wait.

      It can be tempting to compartmentalize employee development to its traditional times on the calendar. For example, you might be thinking about something right now that you want to tell an employee in their next quarterly review. But remember that nearly 40% of employees report they haven’t learned anything new on the job in the past month. You water the plants in your office regularly rather than dumping a bucket of water on them once every few months. The least you can do is show your employees the same courtesy. Take a moment to talk to them anytime you have an idea, sense a concern, or feel disconnected.

      Review your employee records.

      It can be difficult to keep track of all your employees’ development unless you’re, well, keeping track of it. As recommended earlier, use a notebook or other method to record their input and your observations. Refer back to this record often, as it’s the perfect way to notice the nuances in performance you can expect over the course of any given year.

      Ask lots of questions.

      Questioning employees may seem antithetical because mentorship is often associated with business veterans imparting wisdom to greenhorns. Yes, as a business leader, your wisdom can be valuable. But it’s also your wisdom. Your employees need to grow in their own ways. By using open-ended questions and encouraging personal discoveries, you can foster an environment where your employees rise to their fullest potential.

      Open your door.

      In any successful mentorship, there has to be trust. One of the easiest ways you can begin to foster that in your office is by opening your door. Don’t refer to this as an “open-door policy,” because employees don’t thrive within policies. Rather, let your people know that you’re happy to talk with them whenever possible. If your door’s open, you’re likely available. And, if you’re not, you’ll be happy to schedule some time for them at a later date.

      Celebrate success.  

      In the best offices, development comes from as many indirect sources as direct. So when others on your team exemplify greatness, be sure to share it with all of your employees. Not only will this provide real-life examples of high performance, but it’ll help create an environment of shared success. It also builds trust and respect because your people can see that you notice the good and consider it worthy of praise.

      Seek input from others.

      Personal growth is a team initiative. Make the development of each individual part of broader discussions in the office. This approach helps you solicit ideas from others, which is where the best suggestions often come from. Plus, it communicates office-wide your commitment to career development for every employee, not just a chosen few.

      Let your people try.

      Words matter, but action drives it home. So don’t forget to let your people experiment. And fail. The expectation should be that trying is required, as is learning. Those are the results that matter. If someone on your design team wants to lend their hand on the leadership side of things, don’t put a kibosh on it simply because they haven’t done something like that in the past. By empowering them to take the driver’s seat in their development, you’ll see better results all around.

      As you put a focus on employee development, you’ll notice your business will inevitably follow a similar trend. After all, it takes a rising tide to lift all the boats. So carve out the time your people deserve. Track their feedback, goals, and opportunities as thoughtfully as you’d want someone to do for you. Doing so will create a culture of trust where turnover is less of a threat, and the bigger problem is identifying the right roles for your highly motivated people.

      About the author
      Grant Olsen

      Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on and Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.

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