Jennie Marshall | 3 August 2016
Let me ask you a question as a leader – when was the last time you consciously took the time to develop one of your employees? When did you contribute to the evolution of their career?
One of the core responsibilities of a good leader is the ability to develop the skills and talents of the employees on their team. In today’s thriving social learning environment you are probably fortunate to have many resources available to help develop your employees. Could you name them all?
With the rise in the demand for learning to become more of a social interaction, you, as the leader, are still ultimately responsible for providing developmental coaching for your team.
Sounds easy right? Some leaders can struggle to find ways to develop their team beyond some coaching or sending their team on a course.
Follow these tips to help prepare your team members for success in their current roles and beyond.
1. Encourage development
Be encouraging when it comes to professional development. Your highest performers are often not satisfied with their skills today and will be looking to develop beyond their current role. If they want to they can become leaders, but they will need your support. Remember, these are the team members who often have the most options for work elsewhere. Neglecting your high performers and their development may result in unwanted turnover.
Become familiar with what learning opportunities are offered within your business. For example, does your organisation have a mentoring programme? If not, why not start one? Encourage your team members to take advantage of these opportunities if they fit with their developmental plan.
2. Create a plan together
Help them create a developmental plan and then support it. Get to know your team members! First seek to understand their strengths, interests, goals, weaknesses, and what's most important to them. Ask questions, listen, and observe them in action. Help them understand the competencies required for them to grow and/or be promoted. Be specific in describing what skills, behaviours and knowledge will help them reach the next level. The developmental plan is essentially a roadmap and should include information about the competencies desired, the actions necessary to acquire the specific skills/knowledge, resources that will be required and any target dates for completing the steps. As always, set a follow-up meeting to discuss whether or not the steps were completed and to assess progress together.
3. Support their network
Help them create a supportive network inside and outside of your organisation. Invite them to specific meetings in which you can introduce them to a work group and help them assimilate into the group by offering ideas on how they can participate in the group. Follow up with feedback on how well they performed within the group. Take them to outside professional group meetings that would support their development within the field. And yes, finally you can support them virtually as well by recommending online groups, blogs and connections that would add talented people and information to their networking circles.
4. Help them stretch
Give your high potential employees ‘stretch’ assignments which require they do something different from their normal routine. Getting an employee outside of his/her comfort zone is essential to building leadership skill. Encourage the employee to take intelligent risks in trying out new behaviours, but be sure you've established an environment in which mistakes are truly seen as an opportunity to learn.
5. Develop your own resources
Get creative! Some organisations have developed their own internal training and development opportunities to better serve the unique needs of their work roles. If your organisation doesn't offer internal training opportunities, then perhaps it's up to you to start that conversation.
6. Remember recognition
Finally, take time to recognise your employees for work well done. We encourage you to provide recognition in a timely and specific manner, but also remember to use the performance review as an opportunity to communicate your appreciation for excellent performance during the year.
If you are looking to update your skills, QA offer a wide range of Leadership and Development training courses to help you develop professionally, including coaching and mentoring courses. Our new Leadership Academy offers an intensive learning experience at a high-quality residential venue, allowing you to fully immerse yourself and take full advantage of the learning experience.