Any successful business reinvention requires reinventing your employees, as well. Does that idea scare you? It shouldn’t, says Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute.
“Employees are realizing there are no guarantees for lifetime employment, so they’re going where the opportunities
to grow and develop are,” says Mitchell, the author of The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Essential Survival Skills for Any Economy
:The smart business owner creates an environment where that can happen with their own company,
instead of the person having to leave to develop.”
Providing opportunities for your employees to reinvent themselves makes them more bonded to your company. But it’s not only a smart retention strategy—it’s also essential if you’re reinventing your business. “If [business owners] don’t help the employee reinvent themselves in a way that’s in alignment with the business, either the employee’s going to leave, the employee’s going to be unhappy and unproductive, or the biz will evolve but the employee won’t, and in the end the loyal employee will have to be let go,” warns Mitchell.
How can you help your employees reinvent themselves without breaking the business budget?
First, Mitchell advises, “Get creative and tap into your local community. Are there free or low-cost
seminars at your community college? All kinds of skills development is going on at the community college level these days.”
Second, she says, “Ask each employee, ‘If you could work on something else in this business, what would that be?’ Give them a shot at it, and give them the support to do it.” What if another employee or an outside consultant is already working on that project? “Team them up,” says Mitchell. That’s smart strategic planning, because if the other employee leaves or the consultant becomes too costly, the employee who’s learned the ropes can take over.
What if employees are reluctant to reinvent themselves or are overwhelmed by the challenge? “It’s all in the framing,” says Mitchell. “Don’t position it as ‘if you don’t reinvent, you’re out of here.’ Position it as, ‘We all want to grow and evolve to create a stronger team, more opportunity and an interesting work environment for you. What ideas do you have about doing new things in the company that would keep [work] fresh and interesting for you?”
Last, but not least, Mitchell suggests harnessing employees’ natural interests and strengths. If someone on your team loves playing with social media on their off hours, for instance, let them take charge of your company’s social media efforts. “Reinvention can be fun,” says Mitchell. “Look for the fun in it—don’t make it into a job.”