When I ask managers where they regret not spending enough time, unequivocally, the number one answer is “Not spending enough time developing my people.” There never seems to be enough time, or resources, or support from above, or fill in your favorite blank here _______. And yet when I ask managers to identify one thing they KNOW would improve their results, you guessed it… the same answer, “If only I had more time to develop my people.”
Perhaps you’ve felt that way. Trust your instinct.
I will never forget the year that I shifted my approach to spending 30% of my time developing people–within three months results had taken a hockey stick turn for the better and engagement was way up.
Sure, it’s scary.
Yes, it takes serious effort.
But no matter how competent you are, you are one person.
No matter how hard you work, developing a team of A players will blow anything you can do on your own.
Spending 10% of your time developing your people is standard. For three months, try investing 30% and see what happens…
A Metaphor From the Deep
As I was doing a lot of underwater photography while scuba diving in Bonaire over the Christmas holidays, my mind kept moving to what a wonderful metaphor underwater photography is for employee development. So here’s a bit of deep-dive reflection for you as you begin your 2016 developmental planning process.
Be Still and Observe
Sometimes the biggest developmental needs are the least obvious. Invest the time to observe behaviors across a variety of contexts and situations. Where do they feel most confident? What scares them? How are others responding to their style? Where do they need to be challenged? In which areas do they need some additional training?
Anticipate the Future
It’s impossible to get a decent picture of a swimming fish by pointing the camera where the fish is, you’ve got to anticipate where they’re heading. It’s the same with employee development. Great employee developers envision what their employees are capable of becoming and help people see themselves as more than they ever thought possible. Then they build the development plan with that lens in mind.
The hardest part of underwater photography for me is patience. My inclination is to chase the fish, which of course scares them. Sometimes it’s important to move a little slower, to build confidence and incremental improvement.
There’s no greater gift you can give your team then challenging them to become more than they ever thought possible. Go deep.