8 ways to empower employees to take charge of their personal development

Goal Management
Engagement & Motivation
March 7, 2022

Free lunches and gym memberships are great, but they’re not enough to boost your employee retention rates. On average, losing an employee costs 33% of their salary. Considering how difficult it is to find new talent during the current labor shortage, losing even one of your employees could wound your bottom line. If you want to keep your employees around, you need to show them you truly care about them. Empowering them to take charge of their career and personal development is one way to show your employees you genuinely care about their success and wellbeing. 

1. Goals in the onboarding process

Use the onboarding process to help new hires define goals for their career and personal development. By starting at the beginning, you can guide your employees through the process of creating a tailored learning path to help them succeed in their role (and beyond). If you use skills assessments in your recruiting process, you can use those insights to inform areas for improvement. 

Empowering employees to tackle self-development from the start of their time at your organization will show them that they are in control of their future. This perspective shift can help them view their new role as a growth opportunity instead of feeling like they are a slave to your bottom line. The more in control of their future they feel, the more likely they will want to continue their journey at your company.

2. Promote a culture of lifelong learning

Inspire your employees to keep learning, no matter their stage of life. Consider handing out a new personal development book for employees to read each quarter. Hold a meeting dedicated to discussing takeaways. Make sure you guide your team through the process of converting their new knowledge into actionable steps that will push them toward their goals, both personal and professional. 

3. Implement learning into everyday work

Investing in your employees by providing them with the tools and time they need to learn while they do their jobs is a valuable investment for your company. Try integrating learning into your employee’s day-to-day workflow. Consider offering platforms like LinkedIn Learning or SkillShare where employees can learn new skills in an interactive way, tracking their progress. Employees will especially appreciate online courses that will bolster their resumes, and LinkedIn Learning certificates can be added directly to their profiles.

4. Give employees more autonomy

When employees are micromanaged, they feel suffocated. And, even worse– they feel like you don’t trust them to do their jobs well. Data shows that allowing employees their autonomy makes them happier, more engaged, more motivated, and better performers overall. Switch to a hands-off management approach by creating all the conditions your team needs to succeed, then stepping back so they can show you why you hired them in the first place. Giving employees more autonomy helps them improve their creative problem-solving and decision-making skills. This will create a noticeable change in confidence. 

5. Outcomes-based work

Instead of counting the hours employees spend tapping away at their keyboards, try counting productivity and performance based on outcomes. Every project should have a goal for each person involved. Reward employees for the outcomes they achieve rather than the time they spend on the job. This creates another shift in perspective. Instead of feeling like they are running on a hamster wheel, your team will feel like they are accomplishing goals for the company. Each outcome achieved will be viewed as a personal achievement.


6. Listen to employees and build trust

Open communication and empathy are key to empowering employees. When managers are more approachable, teams are more comfortable sharing ideas and challenging one another to find the best solutions. Research shows that 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. Empathy shows your team that they are understood and valued. 

When employees trust that you genuinely care about their personal development, they are more likely to achieve their goals, and there’s data to back this. Companies with high-trust cultures report stock market returns two or three times above market average, turnover rates 50% lower than competitors, and increased employee engagement, innovation, and satisfaction. 

7. Encourage problem-solving- assign problems rather than tasks

By assigning problems rather than tasks, you show employees that you believe in their abilities and trust that they will land on the best possible solution. This boosts confidence and helps employees learn the skills they need to excel in their careers. Of course, there will always be times when employees fall short of the solution you would have picked. It's important to maintain an open line of communication where you can provide honest feedback without killing the employee’s motivation. After all, making mistakes and fixing them is how we learn.

The more you encourage your employees to problem-solve on their own, the better they’ll get at figuring out the right course of action the first time. If you’re really worried about the outcome of assigning problems, have your employees come to you with a proposed solution prior to taking action. This gives you the opportunity to tell your employees why you do or don’t agree with their decision. You can even have your employees defend their decision to you as another great learning opportunity. 

8. Give recognition where it’s due

When employees reach their goals, recognize and reward them. This is another way to show you genuinely care about their successes and that you are cheering on their progress. Rewarding employees for their successes helps motivate them to continue working on bigger goals. Plus, it’s a good way to get all employees involved in your personal and professional development initiatives– even those who may not be as enthusiastic about empowerment. 

Wrapping up

Being a manager is about more than leading your employees through their day-to-day operations. It’s about empowering employees to be the best version of themselves, providing them with the tools they need to grow within the company. This outlook creates trust and improves relationships within the organization, creating a productive, goal-oriented work environment. Leaders who empower employees are more likely to have team members who peers perceive as highly creative and helpful. When you foster a culture of personal development, you encourage your employees to lift each other up. This makes it easier for everyone involved to continue learning and growing. 

Martha Kendall

Martha Kendall is a freelance B2B SaaS writer who loves creating strategic blog posts that drive traffic and convert. When she’s not writing about marketing, you can find her petting fluffy cats and reading good books.