Archive for January, 2011

Resources? who cares?

     It is sometimes frustrating to be working in a medium or large company or business and see resources/people with great potential got to wasted in the vast ocean of conformity and lack of challenges. As a people manager or leader you have the greatest challenge, responsability and opportunity of your career in your hands, people. Genuinly developing people I believe is rather an art than a science or a skill set. Although there are plenty of books about it; How to develop people, How to develop teams, Teamwork In action, Leadership Pipeline, Ways to Develop People and so and so, it really takes more than reading or getting tools in hand to be successful at it.
Do not get me wrong, I am not good at it either but I had a share of really good bosses and bad ones too to learn enought to produce my own conclusions. From which I learned a lot of it comes during my job and career in a people manager role and developing high performing teams. Now what I am going to share with you it is just a brief/short of few key points that I have learned and that I believe can be key to initiate development in your organization, resources and individuals that are reporting in one way or another to you.

1) Every individual is an individual: Get it in to your head, there is no short cut, you must spend some time with your team in an individual conversation to understand their strengths, weakness and potential. The key during this conversation is mostly to listen. And then listen some more. One thing you are going to find out is that the perception that you might have on the individual might be wrong or change with time. You might learn something new that you omitted in the past or were unaware off. You will also learn about what motivates the individual and what is the career path that they think would like to follow. That information is essential to develop and determine how to approach the individual, their performance and development.

2) Conduct an assessment: Consciously divide your information in the three main areas;

  • Strengths: these are great attributes, skills and knowledge that the individual have or projects that you can select to encourage, enhance your group/organization. Now because is a strength in the overall scheme it might not necessary something that the individual needs to continue development. But in some cases you want to increase the efficiency or impact of the strength.
  • Weaknesses: It is very important to truly understand this list, because you do not want to necessary spend too much time and/or effort in improving or addresing items in this list, unless is essential to the job/role of the employee. You need to make a critical decision regarding what to do. For example you might decided to work on it, supplement by pairing some else with strength in the area or do nothing at all. And by doing nothing at all, I do not mean ignore it, but intentionally making it irrelevant to the job at hand, to the development and to the career goals.
  • The last list is one of great importance because is the “I do not know what to do with” list. Here there are item that you as a manager will have in the back burner as point of reference. There is no use at this point in time for this information but it will help you decided as opportunities for development arrives. For example, you might have an employee that during the conversation he/she mentions that would love to become a people manager. They have lots of project leadership experience, but has never led direct reports. (Which by the way is different than being a leader) At that point in time you might caught or sense a fear of providing positive/negative feedback to a person, co-worker or partner. Something that every people manager should be comfortable doing and that great managers do very tactfully and effectively. At this point in time you might do not have the tools or ability to enhance or complement the request. It is also not a strength or weakness, because it has not being tested or evaluated. There is no performance or metric to make a baseline. But in the future as an opportunity might arise you provide the employee the opportunity to coach a new team member or find someone in the organization that is looking for a mentor in a specific area in which your employee is good at. Here is an opportunity that you can use to provide the employee the opportunity to gain the confidence while providing knowledge cross sharing and leveraging of one of his strengths. This of course will require coaching and/or follow up conversations, but you get the idea.

3) Take Action: With the information at hand, as previously discuss it is time to have our eyes open for the opportunities to share. These can be in a form of a job, role, training, networking, partnering, coaching, listening, reading material, and the list goes on and on. Every day there are opportunities for learning, development and increase the experiences of our team members.

Remember, take action and take care of your resources. They are your best asset, no matter what business you are in.