Development Mentality

Shawnee Love   •  
October 5, 2017

I was recently intrigued by a coach’s response to a question about how his team was handling the anthem issue.  He acknowledged that “to kneel or not to kneel” was a topic of discussion in the locker room, but it was what he went on to say that caught my attention.  He told the interviewer that he believed it was his job as a coach to teach more than the game.  He took responsibility for preparing the players for their lives outside of the game.

This got me thinking about how that philosophy could apply in business.

If you have hired a new or young worker recently, you are certainly aware that you have to train them in how to work at your company, i.e., how to play your game.  You also know you can’t keep your people forever.  At some point they will move on.

And research shows that employees want to learn, and are attracted to and will stay longer with companies that develop them.

So what if companies opened up their development opportunities beyond job related training to things which prepare people for future opportunities?

I believe that broader training opportunities will improve attraction of candidates and retention of employees, but the reality is, open training opportunities aren’t feasible for small businesses who typically can’t afford to invest in training that isn’t going to have a clear connection to the bottom line.

However, even if small business owners can’t afford big ticket training programs, they are mentors and models for leadership, technical skill, know-how, and life skills (such as balance, self-care, influence, relationship building, etc.). That’s because as a leader in a small business, your style and expertise is being observed and learned all the time.

So even if you don’t have a budget for external training, don’t sell your company short when a candidate asks what the development opportunities are.  Speak about the internal opportunities to learn such as:Learning Never Ends

  • One on one time with you and senior colleagues for informal mentorship,
  • Participation in brainstorming meetings,
  • Access to decision makers and involved in the decision making process, and
  • Personal advice and support.

Owner operators need to value their own style and expertise if they want the people they hire to value it as well.

I have said before and it bears repeating:

Small businesses can’t be everything to everyone, they just need to hire people who like what they offer.

If you are a small business that can’t afford big external training programs such as MBA’s and Executive Certificates, then don’t hire people who want them. Instead find people who appreciate the mentorship and leadership you offer and generously share what you know.