We do not need a team of superstars to achieve million-dollar results. We need focused people willing to grow. Developing people is where we as leaders can realize a return on investment if we are willing to take the time. Reid Hoffman, cofounder of Linkedin, wrote in The Alliance (2014), “Companies have long personalized roles and career paths for their stars…Yet it is possible – indeed necessary – to extend this personalized approach to all employees.” By developing employees individually and as a team, confidence goes up and a reputation for excellence can be achieved.
Developing the individual
What does the future look like
When working with individuals, I ask them to update their resume. Before the shock hits, I explain the goal is to list items they would like to add over the next five years. This includes:
Many have never done this type of thinking. It is challenging work. As Stephen R. Covey states in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), we must begin with the end in mind. You cannot help someone hit a target that does not exist.
Plan the professional development
With that target, together map the next 24 months. Recent research shows that one of the “Three Most In-Demand Employee Benefits Of 2018” (Johnson, 2018) is professional development. You can be creative with this. In my career, we have enhanced resumes through:
Certification courses obtained at not cost with a large purchase
College degrees funded with a stipend program
Project skills added through work load adjustments
Mentorship skills developed through a formal “In-Your-Shoes” program
Each of these came from understanding what team members wanted to achieve, visiting openly about goals, and working together.
Developing the team
Many teams have company provided goals. The type of goals I am talking about are team development goals. Goals which the team sets to raise their own performance bar. If a team sets its own goals and celebrations, engagement is increased.
What does the future look like
Similar to individuals, work with your team to develop the team “resume”. This is most likely an annual report or several reports. The group adds to the team resume what they would like to see over the next three years. Internal goals will come quickly. Internal goals examples include:
Improve information security rating from 85 to 90
Have 98% of all computers encrypted within 30 days of deployment
Implement new Human Resource Information System
External goals are where the real challenge is for the team. Encouraging the team to put itself forward to an external organization for validation of its practices takes great confidence. Starting with a smaller, less challenging award helps the team get in the spirit of things. Many awards are based on reaching a certain level and not competitions. Examples in healthcare and IT include:
CHiME HealthCare’s Most Wired
Computerworld Best Place to Work in IT
eHealthcare Leadership Gold Awards
HDI Team Excellence Award
HIMSS Davies Award
Plan the team development
These efforts can take 12 months or more to achieve. Having a champion and treating the application for the award as a project is very helpful. Many of these awards have elements which your team is already doing or plans to do with a coming project, you just need someone to keep the team focused on the application process.
Your role, if your team agrees to go for an outside award, is to work with your leadership and public relations teams. You will want the entire organization celebrate regardless of the outcome. If your team does not win, celebrate the application. Organizing yourself enough to even apply is a win and then go get that award next year.
Leading by example
All of this development sounds wonderful but if you are not developing yourself, you will not be credible.There are some leaders who believe they have worked twenty years and have learned it all. This is just not true. We all have more to learn, especially in technology. Are you strong enough to lay out your 18 month development plan to your team? Letting your team know what certifications you are renewing and how you are developing yourself as a leader will inspire your team to do and be more.
To develop your team members for success you will need to invest time and a great deal of brain power. Not everyone comes to the table wanting to do and be more.
What if people are happy in their current position?
Map out the salary with the person over the next five years. Most organizations have a ceiling for salaries by position. If the person gets a normal pay raise each year for five years, will they hit that ceiling? With normal inflation and the ceiling, will it really be okay to stay where they are?
If they insist it will, then discuss your vision of how the position will change over the next five years including skills which will be needed. Technology is not stagnant. A system administrator from 2007 would not make it today without learning new skills.
What if the next “job” is retirement?
First, be happy for this person! They are preparing for a wonderful new phase of their life. Express your pleasure for them. Now discuss what legacy they like to leave behind. How would they like to be remembered? What one thing has bothered them for a long time that they would like to fix? Ask and you will receive some amazing responses. I have yet to be disappointed.
Developing people for success
This is not an easy path to take and it is time consuming. The rewards are well worth the effort. Go through the cycle:
Your own resume and development
Individual resume and development
Team resume and development
You will see over time people grow, get promoted, and the team performance improves. It is a journey worth taking.