Here are ten great ways you can develop your people that don’t require any budget at all!
- Ask them to identify a project they think will solve a business problem or improve performance – then let them get on with it. The best ideas for improvement or innovation often come from people doing the work every day. By formally asking your people to think about a project or initiative that would benefit the organisation they will gain experience of analysing business problems, tackling tough assignments, influencing others and managing change.
- Let them shadow you or another manager. Shadowing is a great way to broaden someone’s perspective. Ask them to shadow someone who is particularly adept at using the skills they need to develop. For example, if they need to hone their project management skills, ask them to shadow an experienced project manager. Alternately if they wish to become a manager shadowing is a great opportunity for them to see what “a day in the life” looks like at more senior levels.
- Assign them a mentor. Ask one of your fellow managers to mentor a team member. Mentoring is an excellent way for your people to learn from others who have ‘been there and done that’. It also is a great way for them to use more experienced managers as sounding boards for their own ideas and projects.
- Broaden their role to take on additional responsibilities. A great way to broaden people’s skills is to let them take on additional responsibilities in areas outside of their usual job role. It could be something simple such as representing you at a regular meeting or taking on responsibility for part of your budget. Alternatively, it could be something more challenging such as managing the execution of a complex project from start to finish.
- Assign one of your people to a cross functional business project. Assigning an individual to a cross functional business project gives them exposure to other functions, an understanding of the interrelationships between different functions and an opportunity to build relationships across the organisation. It can also be a great for them to interact with your boss and senior managers.
- Have your team members represent you and your organisation at conferences and events. You are invited to a conference on the global trends in your industry. However, rather than accepting the invitation ask one of your team members to attend instead. The key is to then to ask them to summarise what they learned at the conference and translate it into meaningful actions that your company or organisation needs to take. Ask them to present their findings to you and your colleagues.
- Ask them to act as a mentor to someone from outside of your organisation. There are a range of charities such as the Young Enterprise scheme and Prince’s Trust that need people with business experience to mentor young people. This is a great way to develop an individual’s coaching and mentoring skills.
- Give them a temporary lateral assignment. This could be a secondment to a different function, location or even to a customer or supplier. Secondments are very valuable in helping people to see the business/organisation from an alternative perspective.
- Ask your team member to read or review several books or research articles on a particular topic or skill area. When they have finished ask them to present to you and/or their peers what they have learned and how this new knowledge can be put into practice at work. Make sure you provide opportunities for both you and their peers to give them feedback.
- Assign them to mentor a colleague. It could be a new member of the team or a highly talented employee, depending on how much you want to challenge their own expertise and coaching skills. Ensure the mentee provides feedback to help them to develop how they coach, explain things and as well as support people.
The great thing about these approaches is that they don’t cost you a penny but give the people you are hoping to develop lots of great opportunities for growth.