Encouraging staff development, the right way

Dementia Care
January 5, 2022

In the last of our series offering tips on health, training and wellbeing, our specialist Laura Wood outlines the importance of care managers developing their staff.

As a manager, the best thing we can do is to encourage all our staff to grow, develop and flourish. From an organisational point of view, this helps them to become more knowledgeable and certainly more productive. Performing at a higher level has huge benefits for a manager too and ultimately the individual employee.

Self-development starts with management who should take their own self-development seriously and aim to be a good role model for all staff. Do you keep up to date with research, key issues in the sector and attend additional training to keep your skills fresh?

Employee development isn’t something that happens only in an annual appraisal, nor something you can just pass off to your HR department. All your regular interactions, from 1:1 meetings and supervisions, group supervisions and staff meetings are a chance to develop your staff team

Many staff may not wish to or recognise the need to develop. After all they comply with all mandatory training, what more do they need to know? Few people respond well to simply being told what they need to do.

Instead of dictating the process, involve your employees by asking good questions. Coach staff to think about the services’ values and mission and what is needed to improve outcomes for the people they support.

For example, is there a gap in dementia knowledge in the staff team? Is there an issue with wound care? Coaching questions in the right way help staff recognise the part they can play which will be a huge benefit to them as well as the people we support.

In these situations, managers can help to identify the ways that staff can develop such as connecting employees to role models, subject-matter experts, and mentors. Does another service have a wound care champion or a dementia care specialist? Is there specific training the manager can source for the employee either internally or externally? Expanding an employee’s development network will reinforce their personal ownership in the process and remind them that you’re not the one that’s ultimately responsible for their professional growth.

Think about delegation. A lot of managers will spend time on work that, while comfortable, they shouldn’t be doing. Letting go of the responsibilities you enjoy will help you develop your employees’ skills and free up your time, so it’s a win-win. But don’t expect your direct reports to do things the same way you would do them. They may fall at first and need additional instructions, but that’s how people learn. They may eventually do the job better than you. Coaching and regular feedback is key.

Finally, staff development takes time, resources and ultimately trust. In doing so, you will foster happiness in your staff team and when staff know that you are concerned about their personal development they will respond positively. As staff grow and develop, so does your workplace culture.

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