Smaller companies have a few distinct advantages over their larger rivals – flexibility, more control over their operations, easier communication and so forth. However, they also have a few things going against them, not the least of which is a certain difficulty in providing career development opportunities for their employees.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the smaller a business is, the fewer opportunities there are for career advancement. A firm with only a handful of workers, for example, is unlikely to have many open positions in a given year, nor is it expected that employees of such a company will regularly have the resources to offer in-depth development training.
However, recent research suggests that this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, many experts believe that with the right tools and mindset, smaller companies can offer just as much or more career development opportunities to their employers as their bigger brethren.
Here are three ways for small or growing businesses to bolster their career development offerings.
One advantage that smaller firms have over large ones is the ability to craft an individual development path for each of its employees. Instead of relying on cookie-cutter career advancement metrics, managers at small companies can talk to their employees and design a plan that is perfectly tailored to their individual needs. According to Smart Company, creative approaches to career development that allow workers to have an input in their growth are especially effective.
In large businesses, it is often difficult for employers to significantly increase the amount of influence they have over the company’s operations and developments. In this way, big companies are like large ships – they have a great deal of inertia and are slow to change course. Small businesses, on the other hand, are much more nimble and receptive to creative input from even entry-level workers. Use this fact to your advantage by giving your employees a greater ability to influence the way your company operates.
According to the Financial Planning Association, increased responsibility is an excellent form of career development. Giving your workers control over more critical tasks and allowing them to contribute meaningfully to your company’s evolution is a way for them to reach new career milestones and develop new skills. Using talent management software, for example, to track performance and reward workers who exceed their job requirements, can demonstrate to your staff that you appreciate their input and are actively looking for ways to make them stronger, more competent employees.
The last technique for managers at small firms to foster career growth may be the most important. Large companies often have a long line for promotions and skills training, but smaller companies can guide workers up the ladder from their first day on the job. According to the Telegraph, this is not only a good way to reward high-performing workers – it is also a great way to attract top-notch talent and improve management from the ground up. Small companies that recognize this ability and tap into it are putting themselves in a great position to grow and improve rapidly.
“Smaller businesses are good at running to 50 or 100 employees but they often lack the sophistication to take the next step up because they have underinvested in leadership development early on,” Jo Hennessy, director of research at Roffey Park, told the source. “The people who set it up can’t run it anymore but the next tier down haven’t been invested in to step up and take the leadership mantel,” she said.
By investing in your workers from the outset, giving them more responsibilities and taking creative approaches to career development, your small company can be an even more satisfying and fruitful place to work than a large, established business.