Last year, I said goodbye to a team member who I’d worked pretty closely with for nearly two years. She was moving across the country and starting a new chapter in her life, and as much as I’d have loved for her to stay working for us, that obviously just wasn’t realistic. Not long after her move, she took a new job at a major company in San Francisco.
Was it hard to see this employee go? Sure. But was I (and the rest of Influence & Co.) happy to see her keep growing as a professional and become a brand advocate for us in new places? Absolutely.
In fact, another former employee is now a VP of a company that’s an important partner of ours, and our referrals and relationships are even stronger now than before. These two employees aren’t the first to grow in different directions from their original positions with us, and they won’t be the last.
Something we believe in strongly at Influence & Co. is that every place of employment should serve as kind of a stepping stone. Yes, employees should be committed to their jobs and to coming together to push the company forward, but we have to remember that most of them will move onto other opportunities in their careers eventually.
It’s your job as a leader to build up your employees and help them to do their best jobs possible. You need to train them to be able to leave some day, but treat them so well that they want to stay.
For some leaders, that might sound strange. Why put so much into your employees if they’re just going to leave you? But when you treat your employees well and give them the tools they need to be the best at what they do, you can encourage them to stay. Here are three of the simplest ways to put this idea into practice:
1. Provide mentorship and a support system for employees.
Mentorship can take a lot of different forms. In the past, we’ve paired new employees with more veteran ones so they’d have a person to help coach them, answer questions, and make sure they start off on the right foot.
Another way is by making sure that the way our company is set up works for our company culture. It’s important to set up some kind of hierarchy in your departments so employees know who they can go to when they need help or support.
Every member of our team also fills out a weekly report through a tool called 15Five that they send to their direct supports to keep everyone on the same page. This helps us see how employees are doing and identify what they could use more resources to help with.
Folks need someone to teach them, help them learn from mistakes, and carve out a career path. However works for your company’s structure and culture, you have to make sure those needs are met, and mentorship is a good way to do it.
2. Offer outside education to fill in the gaps.
Sometimes the training your team needs isn’t in an area that you can offer yourself, and that’s OK. You can’t be an expert in everything or just pair up employees to mentor each other through every need. Outside resources might be necessary.
Take SEO, for example. Getting yourself and your company seen online is important, and if part of your marketing strategy is to improve your search visibility, staying up-to-date on trends in SEO is key to that. But if your team isn’t already a bunch of search experts, it might be time to bring in someone who is.
Offer that outside education to help your team learn industry skills, not just skills related to your company. This can mean bringing in a guest speaker or educator for a day of training, or sending employees to a conference. It might even be as simple as signing them up for webinars, online courses, or tutorials. If it helps your employees get better at their jobs and makes a measurable impact, then it’s worth it.
3. Implement an effective training process.
Perfecting a training process might be more challenging, especially when you’re leading a fast-growing company. But if you’re using content that comes from you to help grow your company and your brand, you’re at an advantage. Here’s why.
When you create content about trends in your industry or what you’re an expert in or how your company or approach benefits clients, you’re positioning yourself as a resource — for your peers, partners, clients, and your own company.
We’ve used our content to hire employees and train them once they’re on board, and we use content to create ongoing training sessions online through a tool called Lessonly. In fact, we encourage all our employees to read the Influence & Co. blog and continue learning about what we do and what’s happening in our industry. I actually presented a training session at our last professional development day on where our industry is headed, and I pulled from a lot of my published content to fuel it.
By providing your employees with mentorship, outside education, and effective training, you’re treating them in a way that will make them want to stick around. Practices like this challenge and encourage your employees to grow with your company. Because they’re learning new skills and gaining more experience, they feel respected and valued. And when they know they’re actually contributing to the success of your company, they feel more integral to the whole organization.
Still, even with these efforts, employees may decide to move on to other opportunities in the future. That’s natural. But when employees do leave and you’ve coached, educated, and trained them, they’ll leave on better terms and be more inclined to advocate for your brand to future partners, clients, and even potential employees. It’s a win-win situation, and when you look at it that way, it’s obviously worth the investment.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.