What are the barriers to doing this?
There are SO MANY tasks to get done in a leader’s day – schedules to complete, calls to return, time and attendance tracking, issues to handle, projects to finish. As leaders we are typically not good at carving the time for our OWN self-development, let alone time to consider the development of our workforce. For many of us, we come to work each day with the best intentions and then allow ourselves to become distracted by “fires” rather than staying focused on the tasks that matter. When we allow ourselves to get absorbed by “the work” we aren’t present for those we serve and over time, we may miss those subtle cues that our employees are giving us about their own development needs.
Why is it important to do anyway?
As a leader you have invested a great deal of time and resources hiring the right fit for your department. You invest a significant amount of time orienting and training a new employee for their position. But your role in developing that member of your workforce doesn’t stop there. Now…I fully embrace the idea that development is a two-way responsibility (1) a person has to reach out and take responsibility for their own development and (2) a leader needs to be tuned into their employees to be ready to offer development options. For the members of your workforce that WANT to grow, it is our obligation as leaders to involve them in ways they might achieve their development goals. Trustworthy leaders help “light the way” for these employees to pursue accomplishments that may or may not be within their department. The employee benefits from the growth opportunity and the organization benefits by re-engaging an employee that may have been lost to a competitor…or worse, lost to disengagement or “presenteeism”.
How can you do it?
- Pay attention to and be present with your employees. It is refreshing when a person is assertive enough to speak up and say “Hello! I want some development, here!” But 99.9% of your workforce may not be comfortable expressing that to their leader…or more likely, they are unsure of what they want, but know that what they are doing now is not satisfying. Know your team members and their strengths. Observe them…are they using their strengths to the fullest in their work? Are you seeing any signs of disengagement?
- Have conversations that matter. Ask your employees about whether or not they are engaged with their work and if there are other things they want to accomplish to fulfill their development goals. Do this regularly to role model the openness with which to talk about development needs. Share of yourself and how you addressed your development needs throughout your career.
- Don’t stand in the way of someone following their dreams. Once you know what the development goals are for your employees…try like crazy to help fulfill them. This is true even if their dream is not in your department. This is VERY HARD to do. I know. The alternative, however, is an employee that is not committed to their current role and you risk losing an employee from the organization entirely.
What are some additional barriers that get in the way of helping your employees accomplish their development goals?
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