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Advice / Employer Resources

How to Prioritize Employee Development When Your Company is Growing Fast

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Your company is expanding at a rapid pace. Things are going well, teams are growing, and you’re focused on continuously finding and hiring the best-fit people to help you meet your organization’s ever-increasing demands.

It makes sense—when a company is growing fast, much of the emphasis is placed on recruiting and hiring top talent.

But, ask yourself this: What about the talent you already have? How are you supporting, developing, and engaging them to ensure that they stick around?

If your stomach just dropped, you aren’t alone.

Despite the fact that career growth is increasingly important for your employees (studies show that a lack of advancement opportunities is the top reason people leave jobs), it’s one of those things that’s easy to lose sight of in the hustle and bustle of a high-growth atmosphere.

Here’s the thing: You absolutely need to prioritize employee growth and development in order to foster a positive culture and keep your best employees on board. But, how can you make sure that goal stays at the top of the list when there’s so much else going on?

We recently hosted a webinar with Bart Macdonald, Founder and CEO of Sapling, an HR and onboarding software company, and Shannon Fitzgerald, Director of HR right here at The Muse, to get the lowdown on how you can fast-track employee development.

1. Set Growth Expectations

Growth shouldn’t be a guessing game at your company.

That means that from the very moment an employee joins your team, you need to explicitly define what growth means.

From the very moment an employee joins your team, you need to explicitly define what growth means.

Is it a traditional step up the proverbial ladder? The chance to own more challenging projects? The opportunity to hone a new skill?

Additionally, what expectations should employees have about how they can achieve that growth? Do you have a formal development program in place or rigid requirements they need to meet? What benchmarks are there for their specific role? How will they know when they’re successful?

Make sure that you also emphasize the role they play in their own development. Yes, you’ll present the opportunities and resources, but career growth still isn’t something that’s going to happen to them—it’s something they need to take an active part in.

Getting on the same page about the end game early on will ensure that your managers and employees are able to work together toward shared growth goals—as opposed to operating with competing assumptions.

2. Offer Plenty of Growth Opportunities

Of course, in order to prioritize employee growth, you need to have plenty of opportunities for them to take advantage of. Ultimately, it’s up to them to take the initiative, but you need to make the resources available.

These growth and development opportunities can include things like:

  • Stretch assignments
  • Mentorship
  • Job shadowing
  • Courses and webinars
  • Department rotations
  • Events
  • Community service
  • Special projects
  • Certifications
  • Conferences
  • Workshops

It’s important that you offer a good variety to appeal to all of the different personalities on your team. One employee might feel more comfortable with a webinar, while another might prefer a more hands-on approach through job shadowing. Present an array of options so employees can find something that works for them.

3. Expose Employees to All Areas of the Company

Growth doesn’t only come in the form of a promotion—it can also involve going outside of your comfort zone to learn something new.

One great way to do that is to expose employees to all of your departments. They’ll learn more about a different area, and maybe even discover something else that they’re passionate about.

Here at The Muse, we do numerous things to increase transparency into other departments.

For example, during a new hire’s first week on the team, we do department presentations where each team gets to explain what they do and what they’re working on. We also do a project spotlight in our monthly internal newsletter, a panel at our monthly All Hands meeting to feature different people and their roles, and regular Lunch & Learns where employees can learn new skills from their peers.

Create these ties between different departments so your employees understand that their growth isn’t just limited to their current role or team.

4. Make it Safe to Try New Things

Let’s face it—growth can be intimidating. You can make all sorts of opportunities available, but if you don’t foster an atmosphere where people feel comfortable putting themselves out there (and making mistakes!), employees probably aren’t going to take advantage.

One of the best ways you can encourage growth and prove that it’s safe to fail is to lead by example and try new things yourself.

One of the best ways you can encourage growth and prove that it’s safe to fail is to lead by example and try new things yourself.

It can be challenging to find the time to do that in a high-growth environment, but if you don’t prioritize your own development, you can’t really expect your employees to prioritize theirs.

At the very least, make sure to frequently check in with your employees on their progress. Discuss their wins and their failures, always making sure to emphasize that both are valuable learning opportunities. That will provide them the encouragement and safe space they need to continue pursuing their own growth.

When things are moving fast, it’s easy to focus only on hiring to support your company’s growth—but the growth and development of your existing employees matters too. Implement these four tips, and you’re far more likely to keep your best talent around.

Want to learn even more about how you can prioritize employee development? Watch the full webinar right here.