Quick and straightforward

By Anthony T. Eaton   |   December 2017


[  "You don't need a title to be a leader - and having a title doesn't make you one."  ]

Employee development takes work, not only for the of the employee who must execute but also on the part of the leader who must work with the employee to identify areas of opportunities and pathways for success. 

In today’s ever increasingly complex work environment with so many demands and expectations being put on leaders often development is an afterthought. I have also heard managers say more than once that they don’t have time to develop employees, to which my response is, you don’t have time not to develop your employees. 

Leaders are only as strong as the team that surrounds them and if they are not going to put the time and energy, in helping their employees grow and develop them will find themselves with turnover and a workforce whose skills are outdated. 

So what can leaders do? Here are some quick and straightforward things that will help leaders to develop their employees. 

Understand and accept. Leaders must understand that employee development is essential but that it is a joint effort and does not fall on their shoulders alone. Employees have a vital role to play in executing on development. Leaders also need to accept that failure of an employee to follow through on development is not their failure unless they don’t do their part. 

Set Expectations. Development should be an expectation, not an option. Leaders need to ensure their employees understand the expectations around development and not assume they know what the leader wants or expects. Whether it is keeping certifications current, staying abreast of industry changes or learning the latest software, it is a business essential that employees keep their skills up to date and relevant. 

Communicate. The most significant area of opportunity I see with leaders and employees is their lack of ability to communicate with each other. There is joint responsibility here so that everyone knows what the expectation is, what they need from each other and what is going to happen. A simple and powerful way for leaders to initiate this communication is through the use of regular structured one-on-one with their employees. Again there is a joint responsibility, the employee should set up the time, the manager asks questions, together they come up with a plan, and the employee executes. 

I recommend 30 minutes anywhere from once a week to once a month and that the manager asks the following questions.          

                Where are you at with X goal?
                What are your roadblocks?
                What do you need me to do for you? 

Role Model. Your employees are watching! Share details of your development plans with your employees so they can see that you are also committed to the expectation. Leaders must set the example for what they want from their employees and in addition to your development; you will gain enormous credibility by practicing what you preach. 

Employee development does not have to be complicated, time-consuming or the sole responsibility of the leader, but it does have to be an expectation if businesses are going to continue to be competitive, grow, attract and retain top talent.