Video: How to make development a high priority for busy employees

In an earlier post, I covered 3 levers L&D can ‘pull’ to ensure employees are getting development, even when busy.

One of those key levers that L&D can ‘pull’ is to make development a high priority for employees.

Watch the video below to find out how you can do this (see article below for more information).


In the last video we covered how L&D can ensure employees continue their development even when they’re busy. I talked about three different levers that you could pull to: make sure it’s a high priority for employees, make it so that it fits into their life or that it’s more convenient for them, and also use leadership and management influence so that development moves up their list by virtue of it being high up on the list of others.

Now I’m going to delve down to a bit more detail into the first lever – how we make sure development is a high priority for employees.

So, L&D need to ensure an individual doesn’t see development as a ‘nice to have’ and just falls down the priority list. Instead it’s something that’s necessary.

Now, I’m assuming that you know why development is necessary, not a nice to have. As a learning development professional, you probably agree with the famous quote, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” (Pat Riley).

So you know that if you’ve got a company where development isn’t happening on a continuous basis, then your company will get worse over time. Instead, what we want to do is make sure that development is happening, and that your employees are getting better.

To do that, we need to three things.

1. Be really clear on the benefit to employees of specific development resources

So we know why development’s important, but do your employees? They might know the benefit in a general way, but you need to be really clear on the tangible end benefit to them,. They need to understand how it’s going to affect their career, their lives, their personal success, and their happiness by continuing their development.

So whether they’re in sales and wanting to improve their sales. Or in product development, and want to be better at innovation. Whether you’re helping them to be more efficient, or be happier, or foster a happier team… Whatever the specific benefit, be really clear on what you expect a group of employees to get from a specific development resource. Don’t leave them to identify that. Be really clear on the benefit for them.

2. Demonstrate how the development resource will lead to the intended benefit

Next, you need to show how the employee can achieve the benefit through the development resource.

There are lots of different ways to do this.

One way is to just explain it. This is the most common way, but it’s a little bit like watching an advert on a toothpaste, and the head of the toothpaste company tells you that it’ll whiten your teeth because it’s got whiteners in it. Now that’s quite effective because you understand “I can see the cause and effect there”.

However, to be more effective we can use ‘social proof’. In the toothpaste example, that means seeing people who have used the toothpaste and have got white teeth, helping you believe that you can get the benefit through that product.

The same goes for your development resources.  If you’re saying employees can double their sales if they come to this course, don’t leave them to work out why, and guess whether that’s even possible. Show them how your course has helped specific people to double their sales.

If you can’t make a big claim like that, (or maybe it’s the first version of this course you’ve offered), you can provide ‘social proof’ via the people providing the content, or even where the content is coming from.

For example, the best person to deliver a training course in your organisation on how to double your sales, would be someone in your organisation who’s the best salesman, or someone who has doubled their sales in a reasonably short period. That way, even if your course hasn’t done that to them, and hasn’t done it to anyone else yet, you can at least point out that someone who has had that experience is inputting into the course, or is even leading the course.

Even if you can’t do that, and you as a trainer, you know, or one of your colleagues is delivering the course, haven’t personally doubled sales, you can provide social proof for why the concepts that you’re teaching have helped others to double sales.

For example, you might highlight that the course covers what the best sales people in the world / organization do. This approach is not as strong as being able to prove that your course has raised sales, but if you haven’t got that, then make sure you link the content back to people who have had success, and had the benefits.

3. Help employees to get excited about development resources by making them more scarce

How are you making sure that people don’t just see your development resources, as this inexhaustible supply they can come back to it whenever? How are you making sure that they see doing this now as a priority?

I bet that most things on your priority list are things that are ‘urgent’ – things that have a deadline that they have to be done by. The problem is that with a lot of development resources is if you make it really convenient for the employee to do it whenever they want, so they can deprioritize it. They can put it off. They can put it at the bottom of the list.

You can help them.

It might not feel like it, but you can help them by making resources less available, and give them times when they have to have done things by.

For example, if you’re going to deliver a double your sales training course run by the best salesman in the office, personally I’d tell people that there’s only going to be one, or that it’s a possibility that there’s only ever going to be one. And as a result it’s pretty scarce, and they’ll want to attend. They’re much less likely to cancel. They’re much more likely to push back on managers if they get pressure to attend a client meeting, or a team meeting.

If this isn’t an actual training course e.g. it’s a series of videos or e-leaning that you provide, there are other ways that you could do that.

For example, let’s say that you pay for your e-learning by the number of users that goes through it. You can say: “We’ve budgeted for 50 people to go through it this year. As a result places are limited. If you want to learn how to double your sales through this e-learning course that some of the best performing sales people in the world have been through, then you’re going to need to be quick because there’s only 50 spaces.”

Now you might say, “Oh, but we’ve got 100 sales people, isn’t that unfair?” Once you’ve filled those 50 spaces, and they’ve been through it, then sure, open another course. Say: “Due to popular demand we’ve provided another course.”

One extra tip, when people can’t make it or when you’ve run out of spaces, collect their details.

Then when you follow up to let them know you’ve made a new one available, they’re going to be much more likely to sign up & want to attend.

So scarcity’s really important and powerful.


So those are three ways that you can make development a priority for the employees, and as a result cut through the issue of busy-ness. I hope you can apply this in your organisation, and improve the extent to which your employees develop.

In the next video I’ll cover another ‘lever’ you can pull to ensure employees develop even when busy.

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About The Author

Alexis Kingsbury

Alexis is founder of the Parentpreneur Accelerator and Making Greatness Ltd. He is a serial entrepreneur, with experience creating start-ups in a variety of areas, particularly in SaaS and EdTech. He is also a lucky husband and proud dad, and now helps other 'parentpreneurs' like him to achieve their dreams of having successful businesses, making a difference in the world, and spending time with the people they love.

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