You’re either a new or established people-leader who has responsibility for managing people.
You have always heard that you need to develop your people. You no doubt have heard THAT statement, you know the one, “People are our greatest assets.” Makes me cringe every time I hear it.
Why? Because if businesses really believed it, people today would be able to get the help they need to do their job. I’m not talking about help with the technical, functional parts of the job. I’m referring to the parts of their job that requires interpersonal and communication skills to help them work more effectively with others to get things done.
I’m talking about the types of skills that really make a different in driving results, the types of skills that get people promoted to positions where they lead people.
The People Development Spin Cycle
I was recently on a webinar where the facilitator took a poll of the people-leaders on the call who had been through any type of leadership training. Only 9% responded yes!!. I have facilitated many classes of people-leaders, some with 25 or more years of experience, who said they have NEVER attended a session that was strictly designed to enhance their abilities as a people-leader.
There is a seemingly endless, disturbing cycle here. People-leaders don’t get the training they really need. As a result, they can end up frustrated, overwhelmed by the constant business changes, not fully grasping how to motivate and engage their people, and constantly playing the role of firefighter, you know, handling the crisis du jour. They find little time to strategically develop and coach their people.
Their direct reports become too dependent on these leaders to fix their problems, which the people-leader does, because they aren’t receiving any or enough guidance. These direct reports are then underdeveloped and unprepared to take on roles of increasing responsibility, especially, leading people.
What a hamster wheel!
Break The Cycle!
The real answer is in showing people-leaders how to develop their people. People-leaders need to be shown an approach and recommended resources so they can develop the skills of their direct reports to energize them to greater results, which in turn, will energize the people-leader.
So what is developing people? It’s creating a plan that has a strategy for helping someone become a peak performer within the job they are presently in. Developing people can also take an approach that helps someone acquire the skills that prepares them to assume a next-level job.
How does a people-leader go about this people-development thing? Here are some helpful steps:
- Align Goals –To your department, business unit, and to the company. Doing this helps people see a real purpose for what they do and shows them they are adding value, which engages and energizes them.
- Use Competencies –Most organizations have a set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors commonly called competencies that governs how employees should behave and perform. These competencies can be specific to the job a person is presently doing, or the job they aspire to be doing. Guide your development plan and activities to strengthen specific competencies.
- Build a Plan –Design a plan with the input of your direct report, one that conforms to the rules of S.M.A.R.T. or whatever goal-setting method you and your organization uses.
- Plan the discussion –Both you and the direct report need to plan ahead of the discussion you will have. Before the meeting, you both should assess how the direct report measures up to the competencies. Focusing on no more than two competencies, both should think about the learning activities and resources to strengthen their skills.
- Have the discussion –Key Point: The direct report should take control of the discussion. Write down all action items, theirs and yours.
- Follow Up –This is really where the good stuff takes place, but is often not done. The people-leader periodically needs to check in with the direct report to gauge progress and make any necessary adjustments to the development plan. This is also where the coaching skills of the people-leader come into play to encourage, reinforce, or re-energize the direct report to work the development plan.
As you see, to help you as a people-leader help your people, you must take the first step and help yourself!
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