By Richard Harris, managing director at The Delta Group

No matter what your business does or who you do it for your people are inevitably one of your most valuable assets. It doesn’t matter what else you do, without having the right team in place there is no hope of you achieving your goals. And it doesn’t end there. Sourcing this talent is just the first step, once you’ve got them you need to keep them.

There are many elements to staff retention, and as different people value different things there will never be a one size fits all approach. That said some elements are universal, and personal development is one of them. Regardless of your sector or seniority we all value being supported in our own development, and this type of investment has the added bonus of benefiting both the individual and the business.

Make Personal Development Plans a Reality

This sounds obvious, and simple, but these are all too often either overlooked or put in place only to be accidentally discarded over time. This is a particular danger in smaller, less developed organisations without proper HR functions in place. Take the time to build them and ensure they are reviewed and updated regularly.

Embrace the Measurement / Development Cycle

Personal development plans can take many different forms, but are most effective when they are used as a means of continuously measuring and developing your staff. A simple structure to follow is to build them around four key objectives: Identify, Plan, Action and Reflect.

Clear Goals

Be clear about your goals for the programme, and make sure your staff are too. Regular personal development plan cycles are all about ensuring your staff are challenged, whilst maintaining and nurturing their developing skills. Make sure all participants understand this.

Nurturing from the Ground Up

Operating in this way will encourage internal promotions. They are common place in our organisation and are key to maintaining our core DNA across the business. These allow staff to move into more technically demanding positions, which stretch their own abilities, whilst also supporting the needs of our growing business. Again, everyone wins.

Ongoing Training & Development

The above steps are important, but they’re also simple groundwork. Ongoing training and development is key to taking all this forward, as is actively encouraging your staff to continuously maintain their on-going development. For example we operate a quarterly annual review scheme that relates to personal goals and achievements, development and incentives. These reviews are conducted with the aim of building our internal talent and knowledge.

This approach gives both management and staff the opportunity to highlight any areas of work they are passionate about and would like further exposure to in the future.

Identify Need & Resource Accordingly

You should be continuously looking to develop your staff, in order to maintain and build upon the talent pool. As part of this you’ll need to access the training needs of each individual throughout the year via your PDP program.

Flexibility is often required. Some businesses have a set annual budget for training, others allocate funds on a case-by-case basis. If you feel additional training will be beneficial to an employee’s own personal development and help them reach their own personal goals and those of the company, it’s always worth supporting financially. Whatever the initial investment you’ll more than make it back in the long run.