Develop Your Team Like a Pro

Developing and investing in people is the most effective way for owners to grow their businesses. Making sure the right people are in the right seats is part of the equation, but you also have to help your team learn new skills and develop proficiencies in their areas of responsibility.

It is possible for small business owners to offer professional development opportunities for their employees, even without massive corporate training budgets and a team solely focused on learning and development. Here are five tips for building professional development into your company’s growth plans.

  1. Develop a plan for each employee’s growth. If you haven’t already, make sure everyone on your team is clear of what their role, responsibilities and expectations are. Then, develop a plan for growth together. Listen to what their career goals are and find out what they’d like to learn. Take time to sit down at least once a quarter to keep tabs on their progress and offer suggestions for training opportunities.
  2. Provide personalized training. Employees have different learning styles, goals and topics of interest. They’re also at different stages of their careers—some will need “101” courses while others are at more advanced levels. Make sure the training gives them the skills they need to be successful in their role at your company.
  3. Create the structure for learning. Encouraging professional development is important, but you also need to give employees the time to attend webinars and conferences or take courses. Maybe that means one day a month is set aside for learning, or that the training is flexible enough that they can work on it in between other tasks. Simple steps like setting up an informal library with business books can reinforce that learning is important and continual.
  4. Be or find a mentor. Mentors who have been there and done that can offer advice and guidance. You match employees to mentors based on interest, job role or technical skills. Mentors may hold leadership positions in your company or could be external partners. Similarly, encourage employees to expand their professional networks so they have another source of information, support and inspiration.
  5. Bring in a coach. An employee’s path for growth isn’t always clear, so a professional coach may be in order. An external coach gives employees the opportunity to speak to someone about the challenges and opportunities they face in a confidential setting. The coach can also help keep them accountable in their progress and guide them along the way.

There is no shortage of consultants, seminars and conferences, but they can be expensive. Pinnacle recently partnered with Lipscomb University to offer an alternative, cost-effective option to small businesses. The online portal, called Pinnacle Pro, provides access to the courses, coaches and community that will help your team grow. You can learn more at Whichever route you choose to take, you will never regret investing resources in your employees’ development.

Kirsten Schriner can be reached at 615-690-1469 or by email at

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