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Every month, we’ll be speaking with an expert from a different discipline of business, giving insight on how to grow SMEs, and how to progress through the ranks of large organisations.

This month, we’ll be talking to Teresa Boughey, CEO of award-winning Jungle HR.

Here, she shares her top tips for training a team and growing their skill sets.

How can a business make its employees’ professional development part of its culture?

To achieve this, organisations really need to think about fostering a learning environment. Learning shouldn’t be something that happens on an annual basis, but a process that is woven into the fabric of the organisation. A business can set out its ethos of continuous learning and development during recruitment and then actively continue this through the onboarding process and then the employee lifecycle.

Earlier in my career, when working for a holiday company, all employees used to receive a learning passport that essentially would be stamped on every learning destination that they attended, whether this be a conference, a formal training session, a book or article that they’d read.

Is the onus on the employee or the manager to voice their need for training and development?

Learning should be a partnership. Employees need to own their own development, and be committed to learning and growth. However, it often requires the support of the manager.  Bosses may identify development gaps and highlight opportunities for learning which may sit outside of formal training workshops/courses.

When building inclusive workplace cultures, some underrepresented groups (e.g. non-native speakers) might not naturally put themselves forward for learning and development opportunities, and this is where the onus does sit with the line manager to be able to identify the talent opportunities available, and encourage wider participation.

What can a manager do to identify certain gaps in their team’s skills?

It’s important for line managers to build strong relationships with their team members and to fully understand their technical abilities, and also work with them to understand their professional and personal aspirations. By understanding the employee as a whole person, it will enable a manager to identify any skills gaps, and to find appropriate opportunities to fill some of those.

This could include things such as increasing participation in meetings by hosting an initiative to rotate the chair, ensuring that everybody has a chance to speak. Or, it may be that there is someone who could benefit from financial training and therefore, matching them with a member of a finance team could be a great way to strengthen departmental relationships – as well as interpersonal skills.

What can be done if there isn’t the budget to spend on repeatable training programmes?

Training can take many forms and doesn’t always require expensive external training workshops to take place. Dependent upon what needs to be achieved, it could simply be a case of the teams coming together and having lunch on a regular basis. They could share books or articles that they have read and enjoyed. They could invite guest speakers in from a local community, and/or other businesses to share their knowledge around a topic.

There is now a wealth of TEDx talks readily available. These provide a wealth of knowledge, which again can be used to form the basis for group discussions.

What can be done to ensure that training and development is fully taken on board and put into practice?

The role of training and development should not just sit within one area but should be the role and responsibility of every employee. If organisations set this as a principle, they are likely to see a change and a shift in culture. Another way to promote this is to celebrate success when people have set and achieved their own milestones through learning. Again, these milestones are likely to vary from person to person. Employees should also be encouraged to consider their learning outside of the organisation as well – this could be a sporting activity, learning to drive, playing a musical instrument or qualifying as a coach for a local football team. All these things contribute to a learning culture, which can easily be transferred to the workplace. A celebration of success is a great way to embed learning culture within a business.

It’s also important that during regular management discussions, that there is an element of reflection around the level of support and development which may be required in order to achieve certain tasks.

What support can be given after the training has ended?

My view is that learning is lifelong, and therefore never ends. Even when you’re attending a course or a workshop for a particular reason and purpose, it’s imperative that you do something as a result of that learning, that you implement that learning in your life and in the workplace on your return.