How to Grow Employees


By Neal Glatt

“We need better people” is something that every manager has thought at least once this year.  No matter who is on the team, there are never enough employees who simply “get it” and show up with a great attitude, excellent skills, and a desire to improve every day.  But what if there was a formula to help your people grow?  Here’s how to develop employees to create the greatest team ever.

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Only about half of all employees, globally, strongly agree that they have had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year, according to Gallup.  Yet the ones who do work harder and more efficiently, return 9% higher customer loyalty and 10% higher profit than undeveloped employees.  What’s more, employees who are given the right growth opportunities are twice as likely to spend their career with their company.

For business leaders, the return on investment is clear.  Paying for employee development will reap massive return on efficiency, profit, and retention.  Setting a budget for each employee’s growth is the first step.  One of the best ways to do this is by organizational level.  Frontline employees may be eligible for one hour per week of paid on-the-job training.  Crew leaders may be given access to an online platform like in addition to their paid training time.  Mid-level managers may be eligible to attend one conference annually.  Senior level leaders should perhaps have an executive coach or academic program budgeted.

Whatever budget is set, there are three keys to selecting the right employee development opportunities for each person.  First, employee development must be individualized to the employee.  That means it should be relevant to their role at the company with tangible outcomes in their current and future responsibilities.  But it also means that leaders must consider the motivations, strengths, and blind spots of each worker.  Nothing is more exhausting than training that feels remedial, so letting each person help select their developmental plan will create the greatest buy-in from everyone.  These conversations should be collaborative and encouraging.

Second, development has to be intentional.  The reason that most people never grow is because their progress is never discussed or encouraged.  When time isn’t set aside purposefully, development simply doesn’t happen.  A stagnant organization is one that has not expressly prioritized employee growth.  Part of intentional developmental opportunities is having goal setting and accountability.  Just like in horticulture, where we would never plant a tree or flower and then expect it to grow without frequent check-ins to adjust for changing conditions, each employee needs to be encouraged and checked in with, weekly.

Finally, employee growth must be ongoing from onboarding through promotion.  Growth and development is a long and slow process where consistency breeds the best outcome.  Teams which maintain intentional time for growth, even during busy seasons, are the ones which find the greatest return.  Those who only invest in themselves when convenient, are often frustrated by a lack of results.  When employees stop being developed, they tend to look elsewhere for work.  In fact, 93% of the time that employees changed their role, they left their organization to do so.  It’s clear that growth will lead to retention if it’s continuous.

If your company isn’t sure where to look for growth and development opportunities, here are several great resources to consider. has green-industry-specific training on topics from hiring to management to sales to finance to operations and more, available 24/7 in short, easy-to-digest videos of about 15 minutes each.  It’s an affordable, convenient, and powerful way to train your whole team at any level.  Another great way to cultivate employee growth is to attend the Cultivate conference put on by AmericanHort, July 16-19, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.  With over 140 education sessions, workshops, tours, and experiences, there is no shortage of development that will occur at this must-attend, green-industry event.  Learn more and register at  

For those in the snow industry, consider attending Snowfighter Institute's upcoming two-day operations workshop, July 20-21, being held at the SnowEx factory in Madison Heights, Michigan. Registration is open at This event - Grounds and Institutional Snow Management - addresses operational excellence from the perspective of a snow & ice management professional, but the concepts are applicable to any service business. In addition, we also are offering a one-day workshop on liquid deicing, in conjunction with the product experts at SnowEx. Registration is now open at No matter how you choose to develop your team, you’ll never regret the investment if you commit to consistent, intentional, and individualized development.

Tags: Growth , Improvement , Team ,