by Lisa Pustelak, NWIRC Employee Development Specialist and Strategic Business Advisor

Last month, NWIRC’s President, Bob Zaruta, spoke about the “Roots of Resiliency” and said to think of “employees of a company as being the roots of a business in order to live, grow, and prosper.” While we all know our employees are the ‘roots’ of our company, we typically focus on other parts of the business versus ensuring these roots are strong and able to endure the storms that will come along. One way to strengthen the roots of your team is to create Individual Development Plans. Here are a few steps to get you started:

1. Work with your employees. Learn more about what they want to learn and discuss what you need them to learn. Together, come up with a plan to ensure they are getting the opportunity to learn what they want and
need to.

2. Determine best sources of learning. First, consider each employee’s learning style. Everyone is different. Webinars may work great for one but another may need hands on one on one type training. There are many options for learning. Webinars and virtual trainings are abundant, saving time and travel costs. In-person training is still an option, usually with smaller class sizes. Don’t forget to tap into the tribal knowledge of your employees. Utilize the strengths of others on the team. Asking others, helps builds confidence and gives them a sense of pride. If the cost of trainings is a barrier, WEDnetPA may be able to help.

3. Document the plan. Accountability is key here. Write or type out the plan you and your employee has come up with. Determine if budget is an issue and establish limits if necessary. Then, assign timelines for both research and completion. As a leader, you have a lot on your plate. It’s ok to put some of the research on the employee, let them go out and find what they think will work for them and come back to review it with you.

4. Follow-up. A plan is only good if it is reviewed and followed up on. For larger companies that have HR departments, they can certainly help with this. But if you are HR for your team, then schedule regular check-in’s to review progress such as what has been found through research, what is scheduled, and what is completed.

Bonus tip. During the follow up sessions also ask the employee to share what they learned and how they applied the learning. Let them know in advance you will be asking these questions. They will be much more likely to follow through and apply the learning if the accountability is established up front.

As a year with many storms comes to an end and we look forward to starting anew next month, plan to strengthen the roots of your team, ensure you are providing them the opportunities to learn, grow, and prosper for themselves and the company. As a Malay Proverb says: “A tree with strong roots laughs at the storm”. When you develop your people, it will be much easier to weather any storm that comes along.


Side note: Lisa Pustelak will facilitate an employee development webinar series starting in January on Critical Thinking. Find more information here.