I had the opportunity to interview two longtime leaders for this issue: Mohawk Industries president Brian Carson, who shared his thoughts on how to cultivate a new generation of flooring leaders; and Randy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries, who retired from his role on December 15, and talked about his vision for the future. Something both men had in common, besides heading two of the industry’s largest manufacturers, is their passion for employee development.

I can’t think of an aspect of business management that has a more profound impact on the health of a business than training and planning. Helping employees figure out and prepare for their future seems like a no-brainer, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t often make the time to get a formalized training and development program in place. The result? Employees who may not realize the trajectory their careers could take if they aren’t exposed to new and different ideas and skills.

Small businesses, like many flooring stores, often don’t have enough hours in the week to develop formal programs. Don’t get me wrong, we’re guilty of it in publishing, too. While our publishing company provides all kinds of courses and webinars, the truth is our day-to-day schedules and deadlines give us a good excuse to deprioritize that training.

Here are a few simple ways you can begin to reprioritize employee development.

  1. Coaching: A simple way to ease into coaching is to ask questions. What would you like to learn that would help you in your role? What challenges are you facing and how can I help? What systems should we implement to improve a process?
  2. Developing soft skills: Things like reading body language, face reading and improving communication skills can foster a better work environment and make for happier workers.
  3. Personal development: Our employees feel a range of emotional and physical responses to opportunities and stressors at work. Offer your employees opportunities for them to share their concerns, sponsor attendance at classes like meditation and breathing techniques, or offer them a gym membership.

Does your business have a formal or informal employee development program in place? If so, tell us about what’s working for you by writing kernt@bnpmedia.com.