“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” - Former CEO of GE, Jack Welch
In my last blog, I talked about the importance of your continuing to grow and develop as a leader. Now let’s talk about the importance of growing and developing your people. Both are essential if you want to prepare your organization to succeed today and into the future.
Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized. Providing them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company demonstrates in a very real way that they are integral to the organization and its success. And when employees feel that kind of connection they will be more engaged and loyal.
Employee development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing, etc. The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.
Too often development opportunities are limited to “fixing” an employee’s weaknesses rather than leveraging and developing their strengths. Yet, according to Gallup, organizations that focus on employee strengths have higher engagement, less turnover and a better bottom line.
Create development plans that take into consideration organization goals and the skills and behaviors employees will need to contribute to achieving those goals. It’s also essential that individual employee career goals and personal interests be taken into account in development plans. All too often employees have skills and talents that are under-utilized. In fact, 74% of employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential. (The Learning Wave)
Also consider the skills and behaviors employees will need in the future to succeed (yes, even if it’s not in your organization). According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in 2020 will be:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility
Creating, implementing and supporting development plans for your employees will not only help keep them loyal and engaged, it will ensure that your organization is ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
"The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay." - Henry Ford
Till next time,
You’re in a job you like, you can do it almost on autopilot, and your performance reviews are stellar. No need to update your skills, right? Wrong!
Or…you’re in a job you hate, but, “it’s a job” and you are so overworked or busy trying to keep that job that you have no time to even THINK about what’s next, let alone PREPARE for it. There’s just no way, right? Wrong!
Whether you like your job or hate it, keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and preparing for what’s next is a must. Here’s a “get real” process to help you get started.
Conduct an inventory. Look at your last performance review. Make a list of both strengths and development areas. Then think about what you want to do next. If you are currently working and want to progress on your career path, what skills and knowledge will you need to get to the next level? Add these to your list. If you are looking for a new opportunity, what are the requirements of your target position? Which of those requirements are you lacking? Add these to your list.
Create a personal development plan. Select one or two areas from your inventory that you will focus on in the next three months. Do some research to find resources to help you develop in those areas. Remember, learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Don’t forget to include target dates on your plan!
Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your refrigerator, your desktop. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. You can work on them in your next plan. Take a melting pot approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc., on your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.
Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you have gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”
Review, revisit, and revise the plan. Spend some time reviewing your plan and how it worked. Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional/alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and development goals.
Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge is an investment that will keep your market value on an upward trend. And…you never know when that golden opportunity will come along. Be prepared!
“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” - Chinese proverb
Till next time,
I heard a rather startling statistic the other day – since 2010 traffic on Bay Area freeways has increased by 80%. The bad news is that it’s taking longer to get where you’re going. The good news is that people are working – the job market is healthy again. This means that employers can no longer be complacent when it comes to keeping their people.
Let’s talk about how you can get them to stay. Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized. They want to use their strengths – every day - and know that they’re contributing to the success of the organization. They also want to have time to spend with their families and/or to pursue interests outside of work. And they want to be fairly compensated for the work they do. It’s not rocket science.
Help your employees feel valued by communicating how their goals align with team and organizational goals. Provide them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company. Development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing… The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.
Help them feel connected by communicating with them regularly about what’s going on in the company. Provide opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships with one another, not through forced team events, but more naturally through spaces to gather and cross-functional team projects.
Do you have career roadmaps and succession plans in place? If not, what are you waiting for? Help your employees feel challenged by communicating the next level in their career path and what they need to do to get there. Give them temporary assignments that will stretch their skills and comfort level.
Recognize their efforts by saying “thank you” early and often. Don’t wait until review time to tell them what a good job they’re doing. And be specific – what was the situation, what did they do, and what was the impact. Applaud the behavior you want to see repeated and emulated.
Organizations need to acknowledge that their people are the lifeblood of the business. Don’t take your employees for granted. As the economy continues to improve and there are options for them elsewhere, you want to keep those employees in your organization. Find creative ways to develop and challenge them. Let them know they are valued, and that they are a critical component to the business moving forward. Build succession plans to ensure that your bench strength is available and ready to grow the business.
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard
Till next time,
A few years back, when the first baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) began to reach retirement age, there was much written about the impending brain drain as boomers left the workforce. How would we transfer their knowledge? Who would step up to be leaders? Companies were advised to quickly put succession plans in place. And then…the economy tanked and boomers stayed in place and the crisis seemed averted. Now, however, another wave of boomers has hit the mark and concern is bubbling up again.
A cover story last month in the San Francisco Business Times entitled, “From Boomers to Bust?” suggested that “the pace of retirements among baby boomers is about to explode, and it has big consequences for the Bay Area Economy and its workforce.” The impact will be felt more in the Bay Area, the article says, because in addition to the population being older in the region than the rest of California, “the area is in the process of adding more than 1 million jobs by 2040, with talent shortages already a factor across a range of industries.”
Nationwide, an estimated 10,000 boomers a day celebrate their 65th birthday. And according to Gallup, by 2029, 20% of the population will be over 65. Clearly, companies have some serious workforce planning to do, especially those with an older employee base.
That being said, if we look at this situation through the lens of possibilities, I see some real opportunities for both boomers and those who would follow in their footsteps.
While many boomers are anxious to leave the pace and politics of corporate life, not all of them dream of replacing that with more leisurely pursuits. In fact, quite a few plan to keep working in some capacity – either for financial reasons or for a sense of purpose. If this applies to you, then get busy preparing to capture the possibilities. This might be any of the following or none of them (leisure on!). You’re at a place where it’s entirely up to you. Here are some possibilities:
- Work with your current employer to reduce hours or create a more flexible schedule
- Become a mentor to help prepare the next line of leaders
- Turn your hobby into a side business (e.g., become a small space gardener)
- Leverage the skills you’ve built over the years and consult
- Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you
For those who are just starting out or are several years into their career, the exodus of baby boomers can open doors (and windows!) of opportunity, especially in leadership. The key is to have a growth mindset (always be learning) and to leverage some tips from the Year of Possibilities framework:
Pay attention to what’s around you. Where are the opportunities? What do you need to do to get there? Take a personal skill /behavior inventory. Get feedback from others. Use it!
Listen…really listen. Think about a team or department leader you admire. Set up an informational interview to gain knowledge and insight on how to lead successfully in the organization. Listen and take notes. Create an action plan. Implement it.
Dream Big. If you don’t dream for yourself, no one else will. You don’t want a “regret list,” you want a “possibility list.” Say what you want out loud. Tell your friends, family and partner. The more you say it, the more real it becomes.
And whether you’re a boomer or movin’ on up, don’t stop believin’!
Till next time,
We’re nearing the end of the first month of what I’m calling The Year of Possibilities. I hope you are keeping your eyes, ears and heart open for wonderful possibilities that may be in store for you.
Once you’ve identified a possibility you want to pursue, I encourage you to turn it into a reality by creating a goal and a plan. Make it a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal and keep your plan simple.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’ve heard that within the next six months there will be an opening for a team leader in your organization. This is something you’ve been thinking about and hoping for. Now it’s your “possibility.” Your goal setting / planning might look something like this.
Create a SMART Goal: To become a team leader within my organization by June, 2017. It’s Specific (become a team leader); Measurable (you either do or you don’t); Achievable (you are already in the organization); Relevant (it’s an actual position); Timely (by June, 2017).
Create action steps to achieve the goal. Find out what the qualifications are for the role. Which do you have? Which do you need? What do you need to do or learn to close the gap? What will you need to do or provide to apply?
Keep your goal visible. Write the goal and action steps down. With dates. Revisit your goal and progress every day. Share it with someone who will keep you accountable. Better yet, find an accountability partner who will keep you accountable about your goal while you keep them accountable about theirs. Track your progress and add or modify action items as needed.
The main thing is to keep it simple and doable. Too often there’s SO MUCH we want to do or have to do that we end up getting bogged down in our daily “to dos” and miss the opportunity to transform possibilities into reality.
My challenge for you is: before the end of January think of one goal (and create your plan) that you will accomplish by June, 2017 to turn a possibility into a reality.
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” – Robert A. Heinlein
Till next time,
One of my goals in the Leadership Workshops I facilitate is to help participants achieve clarity around who they are as a leader, and how that impacts their people and the world around them.
The leadership model I use – Lumina Leader – looks at four domains of leadership: Leading with Vision, Leading with Drive, Leading to Deliver, and Leading through People. As leaders, we should develop competency in each of these domains, yet we tend to operate most frequently in one or two of them. Here’s a brief description of each. Where do you see yourself?
Leading with Vision - focuses on strategy, innovation and inspiring the team.
Leading with Drive - provides the team with very clear direction and is focused on achieving excellence.
Leading to Deliver - strength lies in planning, follow-through and accountability.
Leading through People - focuses on coaching and developing the team, and creating win-win partnerships.
Once we’ve done some discovery around these domains, we do an activity I call “Developing Your Leadership Mantra.” Originally, a “mantra” was a word or phrase used to help concentrate during meditation. More recently, though, it’s used in reference to a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently; a truism, or saying. Although the definition has strayed somewhat from its original meaning, a mantra can still be very effective in helping you achieve clarity and maintain focus. And clarity and focus are essential to your success as a leader.
Your Leadership Mantra is what you are willing to “own” as a leader. It is created by you and for you. It is an oath that you will live by as a leader. Your Leadership Mantra will help you gauge your actions with your colleagues, your direct reports and your superiors. It also gives you clarity around how you operate in the world. You will make decisions based on your Leadership Mantra. It will serve as a guide throughout the day as you ask yourself, “Does this action align with who I am and who I want to become as a leader?”
Here’s an assignment. Take some time to think about where your strengths are as a leader and what kind of leader you want to be. Then develop your Leadership Mantra. Your mantra should be simple, memorable, and applicable. It should be no more than three short phrases. Once you’ve developed your mantra, write it down, memorize it, and live by it.
And on those days when everything seems to be falling apart or going haywire – use your Leadership Mantra to bring you back to clarity and focus. And if you do that while meditating, so much the better!
Till next time,