Anyone can benefit from professional development—it builds connections, refines skills, and sets the participant on track to higher achievement. For that reason, knowing how to help employees grow can be profoundly beneficial.

That said, it isn’t always easy. But if you want to know how to help employees with career development, the following six tips can be your starting point.

How To Help Employees Grow Professionally—6 Tips

Although every company is different, the following employee development suggestions can give you a sense of what support is needed at work as you figure out how to help employees grow professionally.

1. Start With an Objective

As with any company procedure, it’s always best to direct your actions based on a goal, not the other way around. 

Figure out what your company and your employees need. Are you looking to cultivate the next generation of managers? Do you just want everyone to be a little bit better at their jobs? Are you seeking holistic development, or focused on concrete deliverables?

Once you know your priorities, you can structure your initiatives around them as part of a coherent professional development program.

2. Know the Difference Between Training vs. Professional Development

When considering the question “how can managers support employees,” you’ll need to distinguish basic employee training from more complex professional development. The former often has concrete objectives and firm requirements, while the latter tends to be more open-ended, networking-oriented, and personalized.

It’s an important distinction, if only because it helps you get your employees enthusiastic about growth initiatives. 

When they learn you’re launching projects for professional development, they might associate those words with mandatory training. But you want them to see it as a growth opportunity.

3. Meet Employees Where They Are

As much as you want employees to grow, you must appreciate their uniqueness. If you’re more focused on end goals over progress, you’ll inevitably be disappointed in their work.

Furthermore, meeting employees in their current capacities can help you set practical goals. An employee who loves to write, for example, might do better in a communications workshop than in a seminar on advanced accounting—and you should support them in that.

4. Challenge Them Productively

On the other end of the spectrum, one of the best ways to improve professional development is by humanely challenging them. It can be all too common to feel inadequate or impotent at some point in one’s career. As a supervisor, you can intervene by encouraging staff and communicating that you believe in their potential.

5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

As an extension of the last tip on how to help employees grow, it’s essential to actively show you believe in your staff. To help them develop their skills and confidence, let them take the lead on presentations, new projects, or personal initiatives.

6. Respect Soft Skills

Remember that not all professional growth means accumulating hard skills. Soft skills, the competencies that are transferable across different settings, can also be a developmental end goal. 

For instance, if your organization has the resources, you could pay for an employee to get a master’s degree. Though some may pursue business degrees, others gain equal (or more) benefit from degrees that emphasize soft skills, like English.

Employee Growth and Development Ideas 2023

So, how do you encourage employees to improve? With these six tips as your starting point, you’re already on the right track to encouraging productivity, keeping your company fresh, and learning how to help employees grow with you.

About the Author, James Webster

James Webster, founder and Executive Chairman of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.