Personal development is key to the success of any organization – small, medium or large. In my workshops, training sessions and keynotes I often discuss what I consider one of the primary roles of any person in a leadership role: Develop and invest in the employees they oversee.
One question I hear often is “What if my leader does not develop me?”
Anyone can tell the values of an organization by merely examining its commitment to development. Research consistently states that employees of all ages appreciate development.
Why? It shows them that both their supervisor and the organization care about them. It also helps them be better on the job. The vast majority of employees want to be better and do good work.
However, despite the evidence on the importance of development, many employees feel it is lacking for a number of reasons like:
- The leader does not have development sessions. Some leaders can learn on their own but most do not
- Development is encouraged, but there are not clear processes set up for development
- The leader is uncomfortable providing feedback that is not positive – confronting non-performance
- A leader could have many talents, but teaching is not one of them. It may be that the leaders have not received training on how to best teach skills
- When the leader had provided feedback, the employee was defensive or felt hurt emotionally
In organizations that are serious about personal development and growth, leadership development sessions are held for two days every quarter. How to teach skills is vital in all sessions.
Let’s say that the organization you work in does not have a system of development in place or you are not receiving the development you would like. What can you do?
First, don’t fall into being a victim. This just gives away accountability.
Here is a three-step method that will fill your development cup, improve your skill set and create a better relationship with your supervisor.
1. Clarify expectations. We know ambiguity creates failure. So gain clarity. If your evaluation system is not clear and objective, ask your supervisor this question: “If one year from now we meet and you share with me that I have done a really good job this year, what will have been accomplished?”
Your leader may need some time, however it will create a better relationship.
(By the way it is a great question when interviewing for a job. There is always that end of interview when the interviewer asks do you have any questions? Say if you offer me this job and I accept and after one year you feel I have been a great hire what will have been accomplished? I can guarantee the interviewer will be impressed.)
2. Request to meet with your leader and share that you are committed to your development. Be sure to value their feedback and make an effort to not be sensitive to the feedback you get. That creates a more open channel of communication and development.
3. Ask these four questions.
- So I can make sure I continue what you feel I do well, what areas do you feel I perform well in?
- Are my priorities correct? It is important you keep your to do list in front of your leader and make sure their priorities and yours match.
- What are my opportunities for improvement?
- Do you have any particular training I should attend or specific materials to study?
These questions create the development that is good for everyone. Which leads to a better company culture. That, in my view, ultimately leads to a better community.