It’s up to you, isn’t it? Employee development. At least that’s what everyone in your company tends to think. They look to you for direction on how best to cultivate that most critical resource in your organization—people.
However, in spite of knowing how important people are to success, your leaders and managers can easily overlook intentional employee development and training in the rush to get things done. Production can obscure development. Soon production suffers because their team members aren’t equipped to perform. When leadership slides and employees disengage as a result, all eyes are back on you to fix the problem.
Do your leaders show vision, motivation, and corporate acumen in their own performance but struggle to develop the same qualities in their team members? Employee development, or people development, sets your organization up for growth and sets it apart from competitors.
Share the following 5 ways your leaders can benefit from employee development to help ensure a healthy bottom line and productive work force:
1. Employee Development Sets Your Company Apart.
Your leaders are always looking for ways to grow their teams. Where do they usually focus their attention? Many look to increasing production. But that’s the wrong focus. How does someone grow a company? By growing the people in it. If you really want to see your organization expand, focus on equipping its leaders to grow more leaders.
Leaders must believe their people are worth the time, effort, energy, and resources that developing them requires. Unfortunately, many in C-suite positions don’t start there. But those who are dedicated to achieving the best for their organization need to invest people. Believe in their value. Value their dreams. That’s where the greatest potential lies.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich pointed out, “If employers fail to upgrade their workers, then they’re trying be competitive only with their capital. Anybody can replicate physical capital. But the one resource nobody can replicate is the dedication, the teamwork, the skills, of a company’s employees.” If your managers develop others, they can become a one-in-a-thousand leader.
2. Employee Development Assures Growth.
Achieving success isn’t easy. Plenty of companies said to have been “built to last” don’t. Even some of the giants who seem invincible don’t remain successful forever. So what will give your organization the best chance for sustainable growth and success? Developing and training people.
Many of us come from the paradigm where the leader is connected to everything of importance in an organization. Author James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer liken this mind-set to that of a buffalo herd, where everyone waits around to see what the head buffalo thinks and wants to do. Instead, they argue, organizations need to be less like herds of buffalo and more like flocks of geese, flying in V formation and sharing the load.
When your leaders and managers take this kind of approach, then everyone has the potential to lead—at least in some area or capacity. Never forget that leadership is the art of helping people change from who they’re thought to be to who they ought to be.
3. Employee Development Empowers Others to Fulfill Their Leadership Responsibilities.
Too many leaders become a lid on their teams or organizations. The typical lid is the person who can’t lead yet possesses a leadership position. Because they can’t empower and motivate people, their area of responsibility suffers.
But there is another kind of lid-leader: the competent person who won’t share responsibility. People development by its very nature shares responsibility for getting things done. People development is more than just teaching. It’s transforming.
John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” When a leader gives someone responsibility and authority, they not only learn, but they also start to fulfill their leadership responsibilities. That action transforms people and organizations.
If your managers want to improve their departments, they can do it by improving the leaders. If they want to grow, they can grow the leaders. By increasing the number of leaders and making the leaders they have better, the potential of your teams will increase greatly.
4. Employee Development Empowers the Leader to Lead Larger. It’s a common problem in upper management circles. Many leaders don’t want to share responsibility with others because they don’t want to lose any of their power. But leaders who share their leadership with others don’t actually lose anything. Instead, they gain something possible only by developing others: time.
Your leaders will be freed up to do more important things, like thinking, envisioning, and strategizing. Leaders always need more quality thinking time. Yet because most leaders have a bias towards action, they often don’t have it. As your managers develop others and empower them to lead, these new leaders can take on work that used to weigh down the upper executives, and they can use that time to take their team or organization to the next level. Everyone benefits.
So what’s a good rule of thumb for transferring ownership of a leadership responsibility to someone else? Use the 80-percent rule. If someone on the team can do a task 80 percent as well (or better), then give that person responsibility for it. If your leaders want to be effective, they must move from perfectionist to pragmatist.
5. Employee Development Provides Great Personal Fulfillment.
The greatest satisfaction in life comes from giving to others. Leaders are most fulfilled when they forget themselves and focus on others; they are often closest to people when helping them grow.
Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, said, “Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another.” Helping others grow and develop brings great joy, satisfaction, and energy to a leader.
If your leaders and managers develop people and build relationships on the team, they will create a sense of community where victories are celebrated, gratitude is evident, and loyalty is shared.
What brought your managers to their current level of leadership won’t be enough to get them to the next one. If they want to keep improving as leaders—as you need them to do—they have to be willing to keep growing and changing. This shift can be difficult for highly productive people, but investing in people can revolutionize an organization and give it a brighter future.
Bottom line for your leaders, it is impossible for them to help others grow without helping themselves grow, as well. That’s what makes employee development a win/win for everyone in your company.