Defined: Taking actions to teach and guide another toward learning resources, in order to broaden his or her skill set and understanding as necessary for advancement to greater levels of proficiency and/or responsibility.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
An organization's stability requires a continuous series of top talents under development for positions along the management hierarchy and in other key productive roles. The less effective of leaders in organizations are typically less well-developed in their management philosophy and are less organized more generally, leaving them in a mode of operating that is focused on meeting immediate daily needs. Under such management, staff attrition, especially of talented employees, is predictably high. They do not embrace their opportunity to achieve more by helping others advance toward their personal goals and, by doing so, better serve the long-term growth and other interests of the business. The most effective leaders normally understand the need for ongoing employee development and prioritize it.
Leaders Skilled in Developing Others
- Recognizes development of existing talent as an important priority
- Promotes an aspirational culture of eagerness to develop and use increased skills
- Provide clear feedback on progress
- Provide guidance throughout employees' developmental processes
- Employs a variety of activities and approaches to employee development
- Encourage employees to take on more challenging assignments
- Are always scouting for new developmental opportunities for team members
What Prevents the Ability to Develop Others
- Lack of understanding of staff development as a critical management responsibility
- Sense of being overwhelmed with immediate workloads
- Lack of understanding of the importance of personal development
- Lack of interest in team performance excellence, have a bureaucratic mentality
- Unawareness of available development resources and opportunities
- Narrow and excessive focus on developing only a very few employees
- Over- or under-estimating individuals' raw developmental ability
- Poor choices of development methods
- Failure to recognize that workers want and need development opportunities
- Fear of competition from talented employees
- Poor skills in employee training and development
- Ignorance of the value of developing others to one's own performance
- Lack of courage to assert feedback on development progress
- Insufficient patience with the development process
Self-Coaching Questions on Developing Others
- How many employees have you actively helped develop for roles with increased responsibility? Which of your employees have strong management potential, but whom you have not yet begun to help to increase their skills and opportunities?
- Who is currently working with you to help you further develop your own company and industry knowledge and leadership skills?
- How much total time do you spend on general staff training and performance enhancement presentations, discussions, dissemination of informational and developmental materials daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly?
Tips for Developing Others
- Do a bit of coaching daily, by helping employees figure out approaches to elusive solutions, save time, reduce wasted steps, learn more advanced techniques, manage time more efficiently.
- Build employees' confidence by helping them increase the efficiency of their execution of tasks and communications skills, and assign new challenges that allow them to apply what they learn.
- Provide employees with direction for acquiring necessary tools for their development in the needed areas. These may include books, academic papers, video training, training course access, sponsored workshops and seminars, cross-departmental exchange opportunities, internships, mentoring, software, temporary or permanent reassignment, and/or other developmental resources and opportunities.
- Help employees set benchmarks and milestones and timeliness for gauging their development progress. Ensure that both you and the employee under development are staying on track to further the process at an acceptable rate.
- Provide periodic reviews of development progress for the team. Report to them on the status of their progress toward group goals and what should be their next steps toward further group improvement.
- Provide challenges that cause the employee under development to function beyond his or her comfort zone. Provide the necessary encouragement and support, and acknowledge progress.
- Step back and let the employee exercise and experiment with their newly acquired or improved skills. Allow them the necessary latitude to learn safely from mistakes as well as from successes.
- When employees express interest in management training, be honest about your impressions of their potential with the company, based on their measurable results in their current and former roles. Provide suggestions on goals based on your assessment of their most feasible future possibilities within the organization.
- Help your team members increase their knowledge of their current roles, the company, and the industry, to position them as SMEs in their current roles.
- Employ a variety of approaches to development, including off-site training courses, workshops, and seminars, internships, reading recommendations, mentorships, etc..
- Assign developing managers projects and temporary roles that provide opportunities that serve to exercise and further develop their leadership skills.
- Identify ways for employees to remain in and develop within their current roles, if they desire to do so. If a person wants to stay in their current role, help them make the most of their contribution and their employee experience in it.
Example Goal Statements for Developing Others:
- I will increase my developing others competency by 20%, as measured by the next 360-survey.
- I will use more questions than statements during “got a minute” meetings, as verified by my direct reports.
- Within 12 weeks I will have held career path meetings with all of my direct reports.
Additional Point for Thought
Personnel training and development is an essential skill for organizational management employees at every level. Management training requires a more expansive training skill set. C-suite and other upper management team members well-recognize the critical importance of continual development of personnel to the future of an enterprise. The best of department level managers and team supervisors are those who strategize to cultivate leaders from the top talent among their ranks. The ability to transform average performers into highly effective producers and adept decision-makers is the hallmark of insightful leaders who systematically act to support the company's vision. Managers who demonstrate this depth of understanding of the big picture of the company's goals prove they possess the personal development skills and company commitment that are requisite for further career growth.
Suggested Additional Resources
Goldsmith, M, Carter, L and The Best Practice Institute (2010) Best Practices in Talent Management: How the World’s Leading Corporations Manage, Develop, and Retain Top Talent, Pfeiffer, ISBN-13: 978-0470499610, ISBN-10: 9780470499610.
Noe, R (2018, September) Employee Training & Development (6th Edition), McGraw Hill, ISBN-13: 978-0078029219, ISBN-10: 007802921X.
Hosmer, D (2015, October) The Manager's Guide to Employee Development, AMACOM Books, Inc., ISBN-13: 978-1607283140, ISBN-10: 160728314X.
Lipman, V (2013, January 29) Why Employee Development Is Important, Neglected And Can Cost You Talent, Forbes, Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/01/29/why-development-planning-is-important-neglected-and-can-cost-you-young-talent/#2296c4376f63.
Silberman, M and Biech, E (2015) Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Designs, Case Examples, and Tips (4th Edition), Wiley, ISBN-13: 978-1118972014, ISBN-10: 1118972015.
Harvard Business Review, Editor (2009) Developing Employees – Pocket Mentor, Harvard Business Press, ISBN: 9781422136591.
Suggested Internet Search Terms
developing employees, employee development, coaching and mentoring employees, professional development, performance development, growing employees