How to Help Employees Reach their Highest Potential Through Professional Development

By: Jim Jenkins
May 31, 2017 2:25 PM ET
Jim Jenkins, CEO, Universities East, Sodexo North America

How to Help Employees Reach their Highest Potential through Professional Develo…

A strong company requires core values, exceptional leaders and dedicated employees, among other attributes. Unfortunately professional development for employees is often overlooked despite its highly beneficial impact on company performance. Industry leaders know that professional development is necessary to help employees achieve their full potential. However, many don’t realize the benefits of professional development also include keeping talent engaged and excited about their careers. “Investing time in your employees and giving them the tools they need to develop is incredibly important for output quality, morale and retention,” Entrepreneur reports.

Your team’s professional development can be strengthened in a number of ways. For instance, mentorship is a great gateway for passing down wisdom and helping to build confidence. The best mentorships create mutually beneficial relationships: the mentee learns to deliver quality work and strengthen their talent, while the mentor strengthens his or her leadership skills. A great mentor experience is one where “you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience—something you probably don’t take time to do otherwise,” Forbes says “Along the way, you may see patterns you didn’t spot before.”

Another great way to foster professional development is to encourage employees to attend conferences and lectures. Conferences, while great for personal development, also benefit the entire team, reports – besides, there’s no better way to utilize the information learned than to share it with others.

Another way to help your team continue growing professionally is to encourage them to join professional organizations and/or employee resource groups. Great for networking, employee resource groups provide team members with the connections needed to make an impact in the workplace. Designed to promote diversity, ERGs make for a more inclusive workplace. However, ERGs need members to be engaged: “ERGs are only as effective as the overall commitment of their members and the incremental benefits they receive for their participation,” Forbes says.

Encouraging professional development is limitless considering all the creative ways we’re able to influence our employees. Recently, Sodexo implemented the Certified Executive Chef Training Program at Georgia Tech where 16 Sodexo chefs trained for the official American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef examination. Designed to enhance our students’ dining experiences, the Certified Executive Chef Training Program acts as a great form of professional development for our employees. A wonderful way to encourage employees to reach their highest potential, professional development let’s your team know you care about them.

For those looking to remain at their highest potential, it’s necessary for senior employees to actively seek professional development to keep up with industry trends. Encouraging our employees to join employee resource groups, continue their education and attend conferences helps them to advance and grow as professionals no matter what stage of their career. An exceptional employee is one that never stops learning!

How do you challenge yourself and your team to keep learning on the job? Share your ideas on Sodexo Insights.