The idea of developing your employees can lead you into tricky territory if you’re a business owner. On the one hand, there are reasons to not take formal steps to develop your employees that might make logical sense on a very superficial level. After all, you probably have employees on your staff that entered your workspace solely because you advertised very specific employment opportunities that they responded to.
In a purely transactional sense, you offered those people employment under conditions they accepted, and that should be all there is to it, right? Why should you be under any obligation to add skills to their arsenals that will make them feel entitled to loftier roles than those you hired them to fill? Perhaps most importantly, why should you run the risk of elevating the prestige and value of that employee to make them an even hotter commodity for your competitors to swipe from you? Wouldn’t you just be acting against your own self-interests if you intentionally developed your employees only to have them leave?
It might make sense for you to ask these questions if you are able to separate concepts of personhood and personality from the ways in which you consider your employees. At the same time, it has to be plainly obvious to you how the same characteristics that made your employees attractive hires for your organization - things like intelligence, determination, and confidence - would logically push those employees to want to improve upon the attributes they came in the door with, and continue to develop themselves into becoming more skillful and effective workers.
Obviously, there is no logical option that involves both failing to develop your employees and simultaneously keeping them. Therefore, what is the best way to develop your employees?
Development often involves different tactics, like certification courses, conferences, meetings or coaching sessions. However, the heart of employee development is having an awareness of the employees’ futures. In order to embrace the ways in which they are developed, employees must have a concept of their future self, what they imagine their future selves to be like, and what they envision their future selves to be skilled in.
Moreover, if your employees have acknowledged their adherence to the core values of your organization, that voluntary association should logically shape their development as something that is being done for the sake of your organization. If this is the case, they will naturally connect their professional development with their ability to be effective on your behalf. They will also be excited about how their new skills and knowledge can make them more efficient teammates for the other people they work with.
Ultimately, if you can forge a clear link between your organization, its mission, and its workers, the motivations of your employees will be driven by a desire to develop themselves for the benefit of everyone around them, and the perpetuation of the organization’s mission. From there, it will be okay if you eventually lose some employees along the way, because your obvious, natural devotion to employee development will have resulted in countless workers capable of taking up the slack.