As a leader, you want your team members to continue honing their strengths and learning new skills. When you invest in your staff, you not only help them do their jobs better, but you also help them reach their full potential. Professional development may sound like a costly undertaking, but there are many ways you can help your employees grow without the deep pockets of a major corporation, according to Bonnie Monych, a performance specialist for Insperity.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Monych’s best practices that will help your team learn and grow — and without requiring a huge budget.

Launch or refresh a company mentoring program. Mentoring allows you to tap into your team’s biggest strengths. Monych suggests pairing employees who are experts in a certain area with others who need to improve in that area. And remember that successful mentorships can go up or down the organizational ladder, she says. Different generations have useful insight to share with each other.

Explore industry offerings. PPAI offers more than 200 new education sessions annually. You can also read industry publications and blogs. Much of it is free or easily accessible, Monych says. This can help your team stay current on relevant topics within the industry.

Create a book club. Choose a business book and invite your team to read it and discuss it together. Monych says this is a fun way for employees to share ideas and feedback while getting to know their colleagues a bit better. Think about the topics that would most benefit your team, whether it’s learning more about emotional intelligence or how to better manage their time.

Recruit an outside expert. Is someone in your professional network an expert at negotiating? Or maybe you know someone who is especially skilled at project management. Invite these professionals to speak to your team. Monych says it’s a win-win because you flatter your professional contact and your team members learn something new.

Host a lunch-and-learn. Treat your employees to lunch and an interesting lesson on a topic that’s relevant to your team’s needs. Lunch-and-learns can work in person or remotely. Employees tend to enjoy these offerings because they’re short and help them make smart use of their time.

Forgo formal learning. Remember that you can boost your team’s skills in bite-size pieces. You don’t need to hire a professional speaker for a full-day event. On YouTube, you can watch TED Talks on nearly any topics. You can also send your team members a link to recommended podcasts.

The days of all-day seminars and sleepy PowerPoint slides are gone, Monych says. Instead, look for easily accessible ways to teach your team new skills or introduce them to new ideas. From book clubs to lunch-and-learns, professional development can take all kinds of forms. Follow some of the best practices above and you can help your team grow in an affordable, effective way.

Source: Bonnie Monych is a performance specialist for Insperity. She has more than 25 years of experience in leadership development, coaching and mentoring.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers