I once had a boss who wouldn’t let any of his salespeople go to conferences. Why? Because he was afraid the competitors would snatch them up. So, instead of using the conferences to allow salespeople to build stronger customer and industry relationships, he limited their knowledge and experience

Sure, people are always looking for the next big opportunity, but they are also looking for stability and growth. While there are many ways to compete for great talent, the key is to make sure your salespeople feel connected to your company and its mission.

How do you build that connection? In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’ll share these tips from Tony Delmercado, COO of Hawke Media.

Develop meaning in their careers. According to research by the Work Institute, compiled through analysis of 34,000 exit interviews, career development was the top reason employees said they were leaving those jobs. And that one factor beat out management behavior and work-life balance—even compensation. The 2017 Employee Retention Report also found that turnover costs for U.S. employers averaged about $15,000 per departing employee.

Set your employees up for success with opportunities to grow their skills. By providing opportunities, you can help your employees grow, form personal bonds with them and watch your business grow right along with them.

Invest in diamonds in the rough. Delmercado tells the story of one employee who was smart, hard-working and likable to be around. But there was one problem: she talked like a “Valley Girl” using phrases such as, “Like, I know” and “Like, totally.” The company helped her by giving her some books, sending her to Toastmasters International and matching her up with an accountability partner who listened to her speak on the phone. Within six or seven months, no one could tell that she’d ever had the previous speech pattern.

If you identify weaker skills in your employees and tailor professional development opportunities to their goals, you can improve their lives while also strengthening your company.

Shape professional development opportunities. You just can’t depend on a one-size-fits-all approach. When you consider professional development for your company, you must tailor it to your culture and your people. Here are three tips to do that.

1. Focus on competencies over metrics. A maniacal focus on metrics alone will build a company full of people willing to cut corners and work around the basics in order to meet your requirements. The behavior of that company’s leadership—poor, at best—trickled down and spurred a lack of self-control throughout the entire business. Instead, pick a few key metrics that matter, and focus on more subjective measurements that will eventually get you there.

2. Do career training on a repeated basis. Consistency is key. To have a strict focus on something, you have to beat the drum on it regularly. Don’t wait for people to ask for help; create opportunities and encourage them to take advantage of those. Don’t overthink this. As a leader, you know where improvement needs to happen. Regularly take time to invest in employee development, and make it relevant to your team.

3. Empower your employees. At the end of the day, people are responsible for their own development. Encourage your employees to identify their own sources of development and then to go for it. Any time there’s an opportunity for improvement, be open to investing in it.

Investing in your employees will not only make your business more competitive but will also help you build a supportive culture on a foundation of personal and professional growth.

Source: Tony Delmercado is a guest writer and COO of Hawke Media.