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Employee Development without the Big Budget

We know, of course, that employee development is an essential component in the loyal employee, satisfied customer, and happy shareholder equation. But when there isn’t money for expensive leadership development programs and executive coaches, what can a resource-strapped contact center manager do?  

When expensive, branded employee development programs are off the table, there are other so many other options for a resourceful leader.  Luckily, you already have what the most important employee development program needs – vision, discipline and, most important, heart.  Here’s how to deploy them to your advantage: 

Establish a vision of employee development. This is a simple statement describing the intent of employee development and how it aligns with your leadership and management approach.  Here’s an example: 

In the XYZ contact center, we value collaboration and team development throughout the organization. We believe that the team structure increases employee engagement and commitment, and strengthens our culture.  Our employee development program encourages employees to take ownership of the team’s collective performance and for each team member to provide encouragement, support, and feedback to their teammates. 

You can start to see how this vision might shape your employee development program. From this statement, we know it’s definitely going to include elements of peer evaluation and coaching, and will encourage employee characteristics like teamwork, ownership, and responsibility.  

Embed that vision into your own management relationships, model it, and discuss with managers how to filter it throughout the organization.  If I had a team of managers reporting to me and my goal was to develop their ability to work as a team, here’s how I might approach this step:

  • Identify how I can build the team (e.g., , sponsor a team building activity, ask them to reflect on their teamwork)
  • Implement collective team measurements
  • Coach them as a group and individually on their ability to work effectively as a team
  • Implement a peer evaluation program, in which managers provide each other with feedback and engage in development discussions with each other.

As part of this development plan, I would also set the expectation for the managers to filter down these expectations to their front line staff in a job-appropriate manner.

Meet with employees regularly to discuss career aspirations, their goals and steps required to get there.  It’s hard to believe, but many “corporate”, highly resourced employee development programs don’t stress this essential step.  Honest conversations with employees about the future, their goals and dreams, and what it would take to reach them, are not as frequent as you might think (when is the last time you had this conversation with your manager?).  This is one of the least expensive ways to show employees you care.

Create self-assessment and goal setting templates and tools for employees to create their own goals and track their own performance.  When you get together to discuss performance, ask employees to complete their own evaluations and provide you with examples of how they are demonstrating or developing the required job-related skills and expertise.  With your high performing employees, you will find the Manager’s job will shift from “evaluator” to “guide”, as the employee takes the central role in the process and the Manager shifts into a supporting role.

Evaluate employees based on their ability to self-develop.  The required skills include continuous learning, self-reflection, and peer communication and support.

The solutions are as limitless as the opportunities to implement them.  Without time or money, you’re forced to become creative, to hone your vision, to focus on essentials, and to hand employees the keys to their own future.   You never know.. “no money, no time” might be the best thing that ever happened to your employee development program. 

I’d love to know what you think!  Contact me at [email protected] or connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com//in/rebeccargibson

Want to learn more employee training and development? Check out the People Management track at Contact Center Demo and Conference.