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Develop Employee Business Skills

The success of your business plan depends on the quality of the people you attract and keep on your team, which means hiring qualified employees, of course, but it also means expanding the skills of people already on your staff.

Investing in your current team members is a win-win proposition. Employees get the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and your business gains an increasingly qualified (and loyal) staff.

To make the most of your investment in training, begin by defining which capabilities your company absolutely has to have in order to meet your goals and objectives. Study the company strategy and action plan sections of your business plan to identify skills your employees will need, including such general attributes as the ability to manage information, think independently, work in teams, and deal with change.

But don’t forget another key step: Ask employees how they want to expand their skills and capabilities.

With your critical skills list in hand, explore education and training opportunities that are best suited to your needs and budget. To help you get started, use a checklist of some of the most common training options available. Check off the options that seem most promising given your situation and budget.

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One of the most cost-effective ways to enhance the skills of your employees is mentoring. Mentoring occurs when experienced employees shepherd the careers of new hires or junior members of your team, and your business reaps the dual benefits of teamwork and company loyalty.

If you decide to institute a mentoring program, realize that employees who serve as mentors make a personal investment of time and hard work. Plan to reward them accordingly. Among other options, free up their schedules in order to give them the extra time they need.

Other terrific training resources include self-help business books and CD-ROMs, instructional guides, and educational websites. Subjects run the gamut from accounting and marketing to computer programming and customer service. Encourage continuous independent employee development by maintaining an in-house training library.

To increase involvement in employee training programs, consider offering job promotions, salary increases, bonuses, or other rewards to people who dedicate their personal off-the-job time to educational efforts that enhance their ability to contribute to your company’s success.

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