Camden in the News
February 6, 2012
Sales and Service Excellence
Dr. Robert Hewes
YES, PEOPLE ARE YOUR MOST
valuable asset, and you know that you should invest in people and help them be more effective. This can be challenging. Daily demands and other priorities get in the way. What are you actually doing about it? Are you growing the capability of your people? Are you taking an interest in their development? Are you up to speed with the review cycle? Are you coaching your people?
If you are a manager, you can grow the capability of your people. Developing people is more important than ever. The ability to change and grow is taking on more and more importance. The pace of change is faster in every industry, and the complexity of work is greater. Organizations are flatter, especially in regards to decision making. Being a manager who not only achieves results but can develop people is more valuable than ever.
Before talking about specific actions you can take, I want you to consider some important differences from straight-up managing.
For a manager, results need to come first
It is your top priority to achieve the results you have for your area. To be a coaching leader, means to focus on the results and the development of people. There will be times when the results have to come first. The trick is to not let development fall completely off your agenda.
Another difference is how you approach something that needs to get done. Being a manager often requires you to direct people (this needs to be done, go get it done). Developing people requires a different approach. Instead of just focusing on the pure delegation of the job—go get it done, you can focus much more on how to get something done or what skill the job entails a person can develop. You can engage with your report about different ways to get things done (and this likely could be different from your preferred approach—so be ready for that!).
Finally, an underlying factor of a coaching leader is taking a genuine interest in the other person’s develop ment. Here you need to think like a coach. Are you willing to help others achieve new capabilities and reach higher levels of performance? Will you be able to focus on results and development? Be sure to answer yes, before taking this on.
So how to go about it?
A must do step is to be fully up to date on your organization’s review cycle. You should be doing a stellar job with performance appraisals thinking through the key skills the person needs. A coaching leader focuses equally on the development needs and evaluating performance. Take advantage of this. If it is a daunting process, think about changing your approach to it. Another important piece of background work for a coaching
leader is to be up to speed on your organization’s competency model if one exists. You should understand it fully and align your efforts to it. There is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel!
Use This Five-Step Approach
Here is a straight-forward five-step approach a coaching leader can use and start at almost any time:
1. Identify goals jointly. With your reviews in hand, start by looking at what your people are doing and how they are going about things. Ask some straightforward questions: How can they improve? What do they need for the next level or the higher end of the current role? Do this jointly with your report. Agree on the goals. This builds commitment and shared understanding. It shouldn’t be too hard to settle on a few clear, well described professional development goals.
2. Create a written plan. Have your report create a written plan. Nothing helps focus any development efforts like having a written plan. It gives both of you something to consistently refer to. Describe the goals in enough detail so they uniquely apply to your report. Include specific action steps that the person can accomplish. Without this “tool” you’ll most likely end up having just random, unfocused discussions. Work the language of the organization’s competencies into the plan. That action helps to create a common language.
3. Implement! So far it is just a plan. The rubber meets the road in the actual growth someone experiences. The key is to help them achieve their plans through the work and assignments. Find opportunities in the work where the goals can be practiced. Once you get good at this, work becomes a target rich environment for virtually any development goal. Use delegation as a development opportunity—when you delegate a piece of work highlight the development goal it relates to. Another key implementation idea is to think “Real Time” development. As work is progressing, spot the development possibilities in it. Take a moment or two to discuss the situation. For example, if you have a direct report that is working on presentation skills, be sure to review and discuss some key presentations with them. Explain how you go about it—what you do to prepare;
how you figure out the audience; and how you handle questions.
4. Reinforce. Look for reinforcement opportunities, both positive and constructive. It is important to highlight wins along the way. This should be another real time action.
5. Step back and check-in. Have check-in meetings on a regular basis—maybe once per quarter. Make this separate from an operational meeting where you go over the needs, issues and decisions of the day. The development meeting is a “step back opportunity” to talk about how someone is progressing. Though these five parts are easy to understand, the magic and growth happens with the specifics and particulars
you do in each phase—the specific goals you identify—the way it gets written up—the clever way you help someone implement a goal. Sometimes it requires creativity, insight or simply stepping back. By working through these steps, you take a focused and forward thinking approach to being a coaching leader who develops people. Being a coaching leader can get your group to higher performance, and you can say “let me tell you a story or two about how we develop our people.”
Bob Hewes, Ph.D., is Senior Partner at Camden Consulting Group, where he designs and delivers coaching and development services. Visit www.camdenconsulting.com.