Developing your people is key to keeping your business strong. Rather than a “sometime event,” it should be an active part of your culture so that you always have your leadership talent pipeline full.
Jim was worried. His company had a knack for hiring great people. But the turnover was significant. Employee exit interviews often reflected that they felt there were little or no career path opportunities. This was puzzling to Jim, as he had always encouraged his executives to watch to support bright and promising talent in their areas for bigger things.
He had brought in several targeted trainings so that his executives were well-versed, but the numbers showed that this was not working.
What was missing?
When Jim called me, he had just learned that a key manager was leaving for a competitor.
“I can’t have this talent bleed anymore,” Jim blurted. “How can we get a handle on developing our people so that we quit losing good talent, and so that this talent is ready to move into greater responsibility?”
“Jim,” I answered, “your approach is a familiar one. Leaders may bring in occasional targeted trainings or leave people development up to their individual executives to groom people in their areas. Neither of these approaches is effective.
“What is needed is a uniform, systemic approach to developing your people that is well-defined, modeled, and replicable. Otherwise, your talent pipeline – your leadership pipeline – will be leaking from all sides.
“Well, I need to do something quickly,” Jim replied. “What are my marching orders?”
Jim and I worked on three simple steps to turn things around. By the end of 12 months, results were remarkable.
3 Steps to Developing Your People
1. Define it. Developing your people requires addressing competencies, character, and commitment. This means reviewing and identifying:
a. The technical skills needed for the role
b. The relational skills or character traits that support your culture and work environment (e.g., integrity, connection, respect, etc.)
c. Employee commitment (what does commitment look like in their personal leadership, their work, etc.)
2. Make it systemic and formalize it as part of expectations. Agreeing on your approach and framework is a good start, but you will then want to create a plan to cascade this throughout the company in a way that is replicable. What needs to be refined and emphasized in your messaging to support this as a cultural expectation? In employee job descriptions to support this? In performance reviews?
3. Model it. Start at the top. Too many leaders issue the directive to launch such an initiative, but do not actively take part in it. You as leader, and your executive team, need to begin this process first, and actively model it so that directors and managers can take the ball and run with it.
Taking the time and devoting the energy to developing your people is one of the greatest ROIs I see in the business world. I encourage you to make this a topic of discussion with your team – and to act on it.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.