People are one of the most important assets of any organization. The overall quality of work depends on the skill, talent and dedication of your employees. And if you are a small business, employee quality has a significant impact on your business growth.
However, improvement of your employees’ abilities won’t happen overnight. You need to have a systematic approach to it, by using a combination of techniques to get the best out of your workforce. In this article, I intend to discuss the 7 most powerful methods to enhance the quality of your people.
Many business leaders have a perception that employee development is expensive. But, all the techniques mentioned in this article do not require a large budget to execute, instead requires a dedicated effort from the senior management and other relevant teams.
That said, let us learn how to transform your people into a high quality workforce.
1. Clearly define and map roles and responsibilities
This is very important. Many businesses – especially new ones – do not have well defined responsibilities for roles. In a startup firm, employees will have to wear multiple hats. But even in that case, those multiple responsibilities need to be mapped to every role/employee in the organization. Following are some of the benefits of doing it:
- It brings in an element of accountability to every single task.
- It makes hiring easier, as the job description would contain all the relevant skills and responsibilities associated with that role.
- Work allocation becomes easier and more transparent, as every person is aware of his/her pieces of work.
- It improves the performance potential of employees owing to clarity of duties and responsibilities.
Creating an ownership map is an effective way to define roles and responsibilities. An ownership map matches the right set of responsibilities with various roles, and also lists down the necessary resources required to fulfill them.
2. Hire for specific roles
One of the main reasons for reduced employee productivity is under-utilization of their potential. And this happens mainly because they are made to work in areas where they lack experience, while some of their areas of expertise remain untouched.
The solution to this problem is hiring for specific roles in your organization.
Once you have clearly defined all the roles and responsibilities, you need to make your hiring efforts to find the most suitable candidates. You should aim for a fit of 90% or more for business critical roles.
Doing this helps your employees to be focused and gain more experience in the areas of their core expertise. It will also help them take more training and certifications to enhance their skills.
3. Establish focused development programs
This is similar to point #2. In an effort to save cost, many companies have the same training and development programs across the organization, especially when it comes to soft skills. But this isn’t going to help. Different roles demand different skillsets. A customer facing employee has to be very good at communication, need to have good engagement abilities and should be a good listener.
The point here is, every employee/set of employees needs to be part of a focused development program, which is designed to enhance the skills in their areas of work.
For example, a software developer’s training program should feature the latest coding languages. At the same time for a management trainee, the program should include process trainings, business analysis, making customer pitches etc.
You get the intent here. People have to be trained for specific roles and responsibilities to improve their productivity over the long term.
4. Define role based career paths
We have already discussed hiring for roles and having role specific development programs. Now we need to go one step further – give clarity to your employees on their future by clearly defining career paths.
Tell them where would they be after 2, 3 and 5 years. Let them know what challenging and interesting work they will get to do. Offer them enough learning opportunities. And all of these need to align with their role and area of work.
Make a career plan for every employee in your organization detailing milestones, timelines, nature of work etc. Define goal based job position and responsibilities. List down all factors that affect an employee’s role and grade in the organization. Finally conduct regular checks to see if the promises are met.
Over a time, this will help the quality and performance of your employees.
5. Conduct hands on workshops and on the job trainings
Businesses need to encourage employees to invest time in learning and self development. However, you got to give it a push by providing them with avenues of knowledge sharing and learning. And when it comes to this, class room trainings and certifications are just not enough.
Hands on workshops and on the job trainings are nice toosl to enhance relevant work related skills. On the job trainings could be done in the form of shadowing an experienced professional, real work exercises, understanding processes and standards etc.
Workshops on the other hand, could have exercises involving creating solutions to an existing or hypothetical customer problem. The solution could be creating a prototype of a product, or developing a mini mobile app, or even conceptualizing a product/service to address a common customer issue.
This will not only help to improve the quality of your employees, but to create a highly motivated and engaged workforce.
6. Provide mentorship
This is self explanatory. New joinees in a company – especially those with no work experience – lack direction. They might not be familiar with the company’s way of working, capabilities, focus areas, processes and policies etc. And not everything can be learnt without support. That is why mentorship becomes important.
One mentor can be dedicated to a similar set of people who seek to develop their skills and abilities in a definite area. The mentor can provide direction to the candidates in the following:
- What are the most suited roles for each candidate’s profile
- How to best utilize the learning and training facilities offered by the company
- How to optimize time spent on work to get the maximum output
The above is not an exhaustive list of support a mentor can provide. The mentor has to be a go to person for the employee(s), not just to improve the quality of their work, but to sort out any issues they face at the workplace.
7. Business and technical competitions
One of the best ways to improve your employees’ skillsets is to put them to think. And there is no better way to do this than to conduct competitions. Whatever your company’s business maybe, you can host competitions for employees to come up with a new product idea, or solve a customer pain point, or enhance an internal process.
You can also encourage them to participate in external competitions conducted by independent organizations. This will help them interact with experts and professionals from the industry, which in turn will enhance their knowledge and outlook towards business.
That wraps up my top 7 techniques to build a high quality workforce. Are you already using any of these methods in your business. Please let me know in the comments section. Also please feel free to share your views and thoughts.