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If you have found it hard to source and recruit good people (and I’d be very surprised if you haven’t), it’s essential to take the personal time to manage and develop their talent. Make it your number one workplace New Year’s resolution!

Employees often report that companies meet their needs for on-job workplace development and that they value these opportunities. Where organisations fall down is in the provision of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching. There are all sorts of reasons for this. We are all so busy that we don’t find the time. Some talent exercises are carried out but not acted upon. It’s just not good enough.

In my organisation, we have a development plan for each of our team which is structured to allow for detailed technical learning as well as informal weekly tool box talks, lunchtime learning and a variety of experiential learning on and off job. This includes work shadowing at client sites and recently we have built in further development opportunities by volunteering to carry out additional HR work at one of our client sites (the fabulous Medical Detection Dogs). The bar rises with each achievement and the mix of formal and informal development keeps the team keen.

Any and every opportunity is turned to good use. As an email arrives, a phone conversation takes place, or a meeting is reviewed we identify and discuss the issues and talk about what options are available in terms of solutions.

For example, if we have a query in about safeguarding, we will have to give advice about whether suspension is appropriate; doing our own investigation and discipline (even if the police are involved). While many employers consider that any safeguarding issue should almost always result in dismissal, it can lead to very tricky questions, especially if it is a matter of poor judgement rather than a criminal matter. Such a dismissal may well be unfair unless it is truly justified.

These and many other questions are given to the team for consideration as they arise. Team members debate the issues and formulate their views which they then put to me. They enjoy the intellectual challenge, the pace of change and the variety.

It’s a great way to vary the learning material, to encourage them to wrestle with a problem and to stimulate creative problem solving. These training moments are a convenient and powerful way to create and maintain a positive environment of continuous learning and improvement. The more you make the most of them, the more focused everyone will be on adding value and taking care of clients.