It’s a new financial year, and you’ve got a new development budget – but are you using it wisely? If you want to get the most bang for your buck (and who doesn’t!), there’s a few common mistakes to avoid and some best practice tips to follow to get the best ROI from your people investment.
Have a proactive rather than reactive approach to budget allocation
Often there are keen beans who know what skills they want to learn or training they want to do and they’ll ask for it. While other employees need guidance on areas of growth and development, say after their performance review. And we want the budget to be supporting their needs too.
Hot tip: the key here in the planning stage is to take a step back and ask the question, ‘What key development experiences should we be providing for our team?’ Some great ways to gather that intel is from a needs analysis, focus groups, asking individuals what they think they need, and of course looking at areas of business growth and the outcomes of the performance review process.
Provide tailored opportunities based on need
If we want people to excel across the next 12 months, we need to know what they need as individuals. Most companies are great at doing performance reviews but can fall down when it comes to that follow-up conversation around what individual development people need to grow or succeed in their role.
Hot tip: ask the individuals themselves rather than relying on just their manager’s recommendation. Also ask, when is best for the development experience to occur? Is it a skill required now, or in the future? And can we proactively schedule this for the following months or quarters.
Use development sprints to keep training on track
If you only align development planning to yearly performance appraisals, you run the risk of it being forgotten as the year goes by. What we recommend is using development sprints and having multiple check-in conversations across the year, whether quarterly or every six months. That way you can set a development goal in the appraisal and look to develop a specific skill during each sprint.
Think in experiences versus skills
Many companies think about what skills their employees need to move up to the next role, but what can be more beneficial is considering what experiences people need to expand their horizons. Those experiences could be conversations, meetings, coaching, mentoring, networking or something else. But the key question to ask is, ‘What experiences does this person need to make them a more well-rounded employee or leader?’
As an example, when we worked with a large financial institution we discovered through a needs analysis that senior managers wanted to better understand how other departments worked, so the experience they were given was an opportunity to work in those departments for a few days or a week to get that understanding they needed to be more effective at their job.
Be ready come budget time
All of the above will make you crystal clear when it comes to your new budgets and where best to allocate it to balance your known business development priorities with identified individual needs. Often that will look like planning longer-term development initiatives across the next 12 months, as well as allocating money for shorter-term experiences or training that support people’s sprint goals.
Hot tip: if you want the most impact from your development dollars, allocate a per-head training budget. This puts ownership in the hands of the individual, which means development is learner led rather than leader driven.
Hopefully you’re getting the picture we’re painting that people development isn’t a one-and-done conversation, it’s an ongoing one across the year.
And the place to start is to make sure you ask what your people feel they need, make a plan in conjunction with that you think will make them more well-rounded, and then schedule regular check-ins across the year to assess progress, update the plan where necessary, and book in further experiences as required.
If you need help with developing your training plans to meet your company’s needs, take a look at our customisable programs and experiences for leaders. We have decades of HR and L+D experience in our team and can support you with our brand-new L+D packages that can be tailored to your development goals.
If you’d like to talk more about how we can help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 1300 110 165.
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