Don't be a horrible boss: Let your employees develop

Here's how to look after your staff better, from providing learning opportunities to giving new recruits time to adjust. 

Here’s how to look after your staff better, from providing learning opportunities to giving new recruits time to adjust. 

You’re not a horrible boss, are you? You don’t make employees do overtime purely to see them suffer. You don’t cackle at their misfortune as they trip over errant electrical cables. You don’t burn their wages in front of them before gleefully announcing pay cuts.

At least we hope you don’t.

Like most employers, you probably want to be seen as an easy-going sort. A bit like David Brent, but without the cloying desperation. 

Indeed, the ideal boss won’t just see their employees as walking moneymaking machines. They’ll see them as human beings who need to develop to remain satisfied.

Without initiatives to train employees, you’re stultifying them and your business. So, what options are available to you?

Degrees at a distance

While sending your employees to university for four years is hardly cost effective, funding an online degree course for your best and brightest can boost their usefulness in your company.

Study crams can happen at any time thanks to internet resources, meaning your employees can fit in sessions on their lunch hour or in the evening.

Your most ambitious employees will always be looking to develop their mind, and that can only be a positive factor in your business. Provided they’re not too knackered to effectively do their job, nurture their development to see them widen the skill-net in your business.

Think outside the box

In an article for, famed entrepreneur and goatee owner Richard Branson gave perfect advice for smaller businesses – let your employees run with their ideas.

If you’ve got a business with fewer than 30 employees, let them come up with concepts and develop them on their own steam. This will invigorate the vibrant thinkers of your business and give them a sense of freedom. In turn, they’ll be giving all their best ideas to you.

As Branson says, ‘If you give your employees significant responsibilities, you will be surprised at what they will achieve – and, in turn, you’ll win their loyalty and commitment.’

Make a mentor

No matter what business you’re in, having a company filled exclusively with young bucks will do your business harm. Even in a tech firm or a bustling media agency you need a few old war horses around to teach those whippersnappers a thing or two.

Like a somewhat duller version of Lethal Weapon, team up your older employees with your younger ones, allowing words of wisdom to be passed on in the process. It’ll avoid age-based cliques in your workplace and bridge the working styles of the generations.

The deep end

You’ve just hired a nervous, stuttering new employee who seems as sure of themselves as a five-year-old child. What’s the first thing you should do? Hand them a project and throw them in head first.

Allowing your employees, new and old, to get their teeth into a challenging new task will turn them from nervous wrecks into corporate soldiers, tackling problems with wit and surefootedness.

Just be sure you don’t turn the screw too quickly – there’s a difference between being challenged and a mission impossible.  

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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