When you work at a startup, there's always learning curve for your employees. While the topic of continuing education may not be on the minds of most founders, it's important to recognize that as the company grows, your employees are going to need additional training to fill knowledge gaps. And the more proactive you can be, the faster you'll discover where your employees need help.
Here is a list of ten great ways to engage your employees and discover if they need help in their career development:
Keeping up with the latest changes in technology can only help your business. It’s important that employees are educated on new products or frameworks that are introduced in your industry to stay ahead of the competition.
Having a culture that encourages openness will help an employee feel more comfortable to come forward with concerns or needs to develop their skill. Particularly in an industry that is always changing.
Something as simple as drinks after work on a Friday or a team outing can provide an opportunity for employees to open up and discuss their concerns or needs. Regardless of the event, this is a great opportunity to learn where your employees need some help.
A performance review, whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, twice a year or yearly, is a conventional way to open up a dialogue. If you don't have a process in place, employers can start with a standardized appraisal form – this method offers structure, measurability, and accountability for both employee and employer. There are also individual assessment methods, which take into account the multitude of different roles and skill-sets.
Mistakes happen, we're human, but costly mistakes could stem from a lack of knowledge in a particular area. Fortunately, not all mistakes are created equal, and some more than others are attributable to common sense or lack thereof, such as talking bad about your job with other employees or online versus a big mistake on a project due to a lack of experience or knowledge. Mistakes are opportunities to seek additional training.
Customer feedback is critical and, depending on how you’re collecting customer feedback, it could expose some needed training areas. Whether it be surveys, live chats, emails or phone calls, every interaction with a customer is an opportunities to learn how your employees are doing.
If you need to know about one of your employees, a good way to find out is by asking those closest to that employee in a low pressure situation with predetermined subjects. It’s also helpful if you’ve got a culture in place that encourages peer feedback as a positive thing, a way for your employees to boost each other up.
Employee Tests and Exams
Depending on the skill set required, small assessment tests can be helpful for the employee to identify areas of improvement and seek specialized training or enhance a skill. Using small tests and exams is the best way to discover where a weakness in an employee’s knowledge is.
Bringing in External Experts
There are many ways to bring in external team evaluators to measure employee and company success through focus groups, audits and other types of outside observations. A third party can be helpful to uncover employee needs, provide valuable feedback to the company and expose areas of improvement.
Comment Boxes and Questionnaires
Having a place where employees can leave anonymous feedback can be helpful, but it could yield more general information instead of their specific training needs. Questionnaires are also a source of feedback that can take many shapes but could spark employee engagement and discussions around training needs.