Five tips to improve your staff learning and development plans

  • DeakinCo.
  • 15 October 2018

Employee learning and development plans are essential for getting the best out of your workforce. In the 21st century work environment, it's not enough to stay at the same level; to keep up, your staff need to be constantly upskilling. To ensure they are, formal workplace learning and development programs are the best way. But not all plans are as effective as one another. 

Here are five tips for improving your staff learning and development programs. 

1. Know what you're developing staff towards

There is no point trying to develop your staff unless you know what you're trying to develop them towards. Programs that don't have a strategic focus on an area that can bring value to the business are going to be only slightly better than a waste of time. Your staff may learn something here or there, but they're not going to get the benefits of following a tightly designed program around a specific subject area.

It's important your learning and development programs are targeted to specific valuable knowledge. 

It's generally a better idea to develop your staff to have deep knowledge and skills rather than broad, shallow ones. There may be value to having staff that know a little bit of everything, but the real value comes when you have a team who are all experts in different things. You no longer have to worry about having overlaps in relatively low-value knowledge and you get the benefits that come with real depth of understanding.

2. Find an appropriate training provider 

Deciding what area you want your staff to develop in is one thing, but just as important is finding the resources that can get them there. There's no point deciding to have staff train in a specific subject area if you're unable to find any way to teach them. A good way to start is to analyse the knowledge base that currently exists in your team. Do you already have subject-matter experts that could teach and mentor others? If so, this can be a good way for your team to both gain new knowledge and forge closer bonds by working together.

If you don't have the internal resources that can pass on their knowledge, you're going to need to approach an external provider. This can be a daunting endeavour if you don't know who to contact for what. That's where DeakinCo. can help. As a university-affiliated business, we have the contacts and experience to help you design a professional development program that will get the best out of your staff.

3. Allow employees to shape their own development plans

While you're going to want to guide employees towards developing knowledge and skills for things that are relevant to your business, it's important to give them scope within that to choose what they want to do. Learning new things takes a lot of motivation from the person doing it - your employees may struggle to find it if they're bound into a development program that's full of subjects and information they're not interested in. Giving your staff the chance to shape what they do - even if some of it isn't directly relevant to your business - always proves a boon to their engagement in the development process.

4. Don't limit learning to passive information

While books and videos are great tools for learning, they're often not enough for a complete development program. Some of the best learning comes from doing and experiencing, rather than being lectured to, reading books or watching online courses. Take advantage of this by finding events or courses that will allow your staff to get some hands-on experience and put some of what they've learned into practice.
Traditional learning has its place, but experiences are massively important too. 

5. Let people learn in the way that works best for them

If you want to get the best engagement from your staff in their programs, you're going to want to let them learn in the way that's best for them. Some people thrive in groups - others prefer silence and solitude to absorb material. Whatever the case, it's important to accommodate the needs of the people that are actually doing the learning. Even if everyone is learning the same thing, it's not necessarily the best option to have everyone learn in a group if some team members feel they learn better studying alone.

Want to find out more about how DeakinCo. can take your learning and development to the next level? Contact a member of our business development team today.