Key Tactics: Strategically Investing in Employee Development

The maritime logistics industry is constantly moving forward. To keep up with it, companies will need to invest in innovation. Almost every company recognises the importance of digital innovation, but by ensuring social innovation in your organisation, you can greatly improve the effectiveness of new technologies and processes.

Attracting great talent is hard these days. With a tightening labour market—the amount of job vacancies in the Netherlands is currently at an all-time high—, finding the right people for the job is a challenge. However, keeping the talent you have should be an even bigger concern. Employees in this market may look for opportunities elsewhere, leaving your organisation struggling to procure more talent to fill their place. One way to prevent this from happening is by investing in their personal and professional development.

Employees are a company’s most valuable assets. Your organisation could have all the latest technology and equipment, but without employees, it misses the backbone it needs to function. When you strategically invest in employees, you build an empowered work culture, attract and retain the best candidates, and build your reputation as an employer. The keyword here is strategically. Read more to discover Venturn’s key tactics to successfully develop your employees and empower your workforce.

1.    Set organisational goals first…

Before you can decide on the areas of growth for your employees, you need to have a clear vision of what your business wants to accomplish both in the short-term and long-term. When these objectives are clear, it will be easier to figure out what types of teams and individual skills need to be developed in-house to achieve those goals. Training and development often requires investment (either in the form of money, time, or both), so it is important that you know what you are investing in.

2.    …then decide on individual objectives.

So you’ve decided what you, as a business, want to accomplish. Perhaps you already have some employees in mind that have the potential to realise those goals. But this decision should not be a one-way street. To get a better understanding of what your employees’ personal career goals are and how those fit into the bigger picture, you will need to talk to them, as well as evaluate them more formally in the form of assessments. What do they think their strengths and weaknesses are? Would they be willing to invest their time into a training programme, or would they benefit more from on-the-job coaching? Maybe they already have a certain development programme in mind, but there are certain barriers like budget or time restrictions to overcome. Only by engaging your employees can you create development plans that work.

3.    Consider different types of training and development…

Once you’ve aligned organisational goals with individual goals, you are ready to decide on development programmes. It might seem there are endless possibilities on the market. This is why it’s important to keep your organisational goals at the forefront. Be wary of rigid training structures and look out for opportunities to participate in tailor-made or industry-specific programmes. Keep your employees’ needs in mind as well. Would they benefit from receiving individual training, or sessions in a team of peers? The sky is the limit when it comes to training and development, so it is important you set a direction to go in.

4.    …but remember not everybody is looking to climb the ladder.

Engaging in dialogue with your employees is, again, a very important factor in designing successful development plans. Recognise potential versus willingness. A skilled sailor doesn’t necessarily make for a good captain—just because someone is very good at what they do, doesn’t mean they are able (or willing) to manage their entire team. Employee development should be about more than upward promotion—maybe some of your employees would rather gain a better understanding of what happens in other departments. This is where cross-training can be beneficial. When your employees are able to look further than their own unit or department, you create a strong company identity and culture as an added bonus. Development doesn’t always mean moving up the corporate ladder; sometimes it means broadening an employee’s skillset and putting them in new situations so they can become multi-faceted professionals.

5.    Measure performance and ROI…

Once you’ve identified which development possibilities suit your company and your employees, it is important to establish KPIs. After all, you have defined both organisational goals and personal goals—but without measuring, there is no way of knowing how effectively you are working towards those goals. Every employee is an investment that the organisation is making and from which it expects a return. Additional investments in the form of training and development are necessary, and clear performance metrics will tell you just how much value is added in the process.

6.    …and use it to your advantage to give constructive feedback.

Training and development, especially when stretched out over a longer time period, should involve a constant feedback loop between the company and the employees. This is how you can identify possible hurdles and deal with them in a timely manner. Most developmental trajectories ask a lot of commitment and motivation, so it’s important to keep checking whether that commitment and motivation is still there. It also stimulates engagement if your employees feel that you care about their progress. Don’t be afraid to give and receive constructive criticism, either. In the long-term, constructive criticism is a lot more beneficial than praise.

7.    Remove internal barriers that prohibit training and development…

Many organisations these days have become siloed, with employees from different units or departments operating almost completely independently from one another. Employees caught in such structures end up focusing more on department targets and margins than on the vision of the company as a whole. Knocking down these rigid structures promotes cross-functional development and encourages collaboration and unity in your organisation. Working in agile teams that span across different departments is a highly efficient and instructional way of approaching projects.

8.    …and make sure to set the right example.

Training and development should never be limited to the younger layers of the company hierarchy. The industry is constantly changing, which means that managers and executives need to evolve with it. By continuing to develop leaders professionally and personally, you build credibility and show your employees that development is a part of the company’s DNA. Learning is also not limited to any age: even your medior and senior employees will benefit from development programmes. Everyone in the organisation should strive for continuous improvement and play their part in moving the company forward. This way, you can lead the whole organisation through the process of social and digital innovation.

Venturn offers many different solutions for training and development in the maritime logistics industry. Some of these are aimed at specific age groups (such as our Young Professionals Programme or our Propeller Programme for the medior segment) or skills (like the Venturn Data Science Programme), but our main goal is to design innovative and tailor-made programmes that suit your company’s needs and wishes. Take a look at our training portfolio for inspiration and contact us today to see how we can help keep your organisation moving and stay ahead.

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