Tag: professional development
A consistent theme amongst many managers I’ve been working with lately is uneasiness with and uncertainty around providing “professional development and growth opportunities” for their team members. Many are overwhelmed and some, let’s be honest, even resentful of this more and more consistent request from their employees.
If you’re in this boat – you’re not alone! Below are three strategies to help managers respond.
#1 – It Takes Two To Tango.
First thing first – the pressure should not solely fall on the manager. In today’s business landscape, managers need to serve in the roles of coach and connector…not lone soldier decision maker and approver. Get your employees engaged with their own request and have them take ownership of it.
Ask them to spend time thinking about what they want their growth at your company to look like and come back with three options to discuss with you. You might need to coach them through those options and also connect them to resources to help make it possible, but continue to have them take ownership of the actual implementation and offer quarterly check points (that they schedule) to touch base on how their action plan is coming along.
You’ll often have a greater understanding of the long-term goals of the organization, so one thing you’ll want to keep in mind as you coach them through their options is how the development plan can add value to key strategic business priorities.
#2 – There are MANY forms of development and MANY career paths to pursue.
Managers and individual contributors are both guilty of thinking that the only possible solution to this “professional growth” plea is a promotion into a management position. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Start thinking of management as a career field – just like any other field such as product development, marketing, sales, training, accounting, etc.
Management is only one career track of many that employees could pursue at your organization, but you may need to help open their eyes to that. At the end of the day, employees just don’t want to feel stagnant. They want to be challenged; they want to grow and learn new things; they want to feel like what they’re doing is adding value to something greater than them. This is a good thing – a positive shift we’ve seen in the workforce over the past several years. We just need to learn how to tap into this energy and drive in a positive and constructive way.
Below are a few examples of other paths and development opportunities outside of management that your employees might be interested in pursuing without even realizing it.
- Specialized program and/or project management responsibilities
- Increased client responsibility (larger accounts, new territories, etc.)
- Subject matter expert team training specialists
- Research and strategy-related responsibilities
- Onboarding mentors/buddy roles for new hires
- Departmental communication and/or marketing “champions”
- Cross-functional team liaisons
- Tactical team planners
#3 – Exploring alone is growth.
Once the manager and employee understand that this is a shared responsibility, and once eyes are opened to the various possibilities, then individual exploration needs to occur to determine the most appropriate path. Good news is that this exploration itself is growth! Encourage your employees to become more self-aware and answer questions such as:
- What are my natural strengths? Am I currently leveraging them? How could I be leveraging them to a greater extent?
- What are my professional interests and passions? What am I doing when I feel the most fulfilled at work?
- Am I interested in job shadowing other roles as I explore future possibilities?
- Do I have a mentor, outside of my direct supervisor, who can help me through this process of self-exploration?
Again, this plea for growth and development is a GOOD thing, so let’s reframe the way we’re approaching it.
What other strategies have you used to address this need? Please share!
You know those handy people who can do just about anything like repair a leaky faucet or hang wall décor without it looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? If you’ve ever asked these “chosen ones” how they learned all that random stuff, their response was probably something extremely anti-climactic like, “I don’t know…I just know how.”
Since that response is not helpful, let’s dive into a more analytical explanation for them – a theory known as the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development (which all of you L&D folks reading this post know plenty about). Typically credited to originating from the Center for Creative Leadership and having been around for more than five decades, this familiar model for workplace learning is also useful to understanding how we learn just about anything in our lives. It states that we learn:
- 70% of what we know through hands-on experience and practice;
- 20% of what we know through other people (colleagues, bosses, mentors, social networks, etc.); and
- 10% of what we know through formal learning (classroom instruction, books, etc.).
At a networking event this past week, I was taken a little off guard when someone randomly asked how I learned my trade. My first instinct was to respond with the same anti-climactic response I mentioned above, “I don’t know. I just know what I know.” After all, how often do we stop to think about how we know the things we apply in our personal and professional lives day after day?
After a brief pause though, I responded with, “Experiences and mentors.” It rolled off my tongue rather quickly, but it was so true. I’ve been fortunate to work on several diverse and dynamic projects and project teams throughout my career. I’ve also served on volunteer boards, taught courses at universities, and contributed to community programs and events. I’ve likewise been incredibly fortunate to have been both supported and challenged by mentors all along the way. Yes, I have the undergraduate and graduate degrees, and yes I’ve had formalized training…however, it’s the experiences and relationships that have taken that foundational classroom theory and instruction and turned it into a fruitful career.
Check out the brief 4-minute video below where Charles Jennings, Managing Director of Duntroon Associates in the UK, shares some of the research and applicability of the 70:20:10 theory and what it means for organizational learning.
As you watch this video, I challenge you to think of the following:
- In what areas do you wish to grow? What does your individualized learning plan look like? Make sure you’re thinking beyond the typical register for this training or attend this conference, to things like what experiences can I position myself to gain; what people can I surround myself with; what social networks can I connect with?
- If you lead a team, organization, or L&D function, ask yourself…How can I align growth opportunities for my team to this 70:20:10 model? What does the environment need to look like? What resources could I share? What connections can I make? What questions can I ask?
- If you lead trainings, workshops, and other structured learning events, ask yourself…How can I incorporate “real”, hands-on learning into the session? How can I get participants to engage with each other and learn from one another? What post-learning event experiences could help participants immediately apply the classroom instruction?
Enjoy the video and Happy Learning!
photo credit: Neil. Moralee via