Why wouldn’t you encourage personal development?

12 Mar 2018

Every manager wants their team to be the best it can be. That means hiring the right people to do the right job, get them trained up, and support them throughout their time with you.

To me, supporting someone means three things:

  1. Giving them the tools and resources they need to do their job
  2. Provide the emotional and pastoral support they need to stay happy in their job
  3. Work with them to develop their skills so they can grow and improve over time

And it’s that last one that can be tricky.

There are three arguments I often hear from managers (and business owners) around their reluctance to encourage their team to seek out personal development opportunities.

So I’m going to tackle these one-by-one to show you how something you might think is a drawback is actually a benefit.

Argument 1: It takes up too much time.

Yeah, I get this one. You want to encourage your team to grow (and they want to do it), but it just creates too much strain on that ultimate resource: time.

That means for both them and you. You lose a bit of resource while they’re training. They will have to potentially invest more of their time and energy in this training.

But the important thing to remember, both for you and your employee, is that they’re going to come back to you with more skills and ideas (and potentially more enthusiasm).

This will make them more efficient and inject some new energy into your projects.

Argument 2: They’ll take the training and then leave!

No they won’t. Well…ok, they might. But this is a conversation that you need to have with them when the issue of training and personal development comes up.

If you are honest with them and say that you’re concerned that they will leave after they finish the training, see how they react. You know your people and will know whether they are honestly trying to scam you out of training time (and cost) for their own gain or whether they are doing it for mutual benefit.

The important thing is to have that conversation. Get it all out in the open. So everyone knows where they stand.

Argument 3: It just costs too much

Yeah, I get this. Like the time argument there is a business question about whether you can afford to train everyone to the standard that you want to. It’s tricky and a question that only you can answer.

But I would say that, just like any other business decision, you should work out the cost-benefit tradeoff.

How much will it cost? What will the benefit be? Does it benefit the WHOLE business? And then the final one: Does the benefit outweigh the cost?

Sometimes the answer will be no and you’ll have to go back and decline the request. But often (I think), the answer will be yes.

You’ll only know, though, if you actually engage with the question rather than reacting at a gut level.

Encouraging personal development in your team is vital to keeping your company flourishing. After all, your business is only as strong as the people who make it up.

So the next time someone comes to you asking for time and/or money to seek out some personal development, don’t react with your initial gut arguments.

Work out if it will benefit your business and (hopefully) say yes.