Articles

Accidental Or Deliberate Growth?

October 28, 2022 - By Tony Flannigan, Associate, BSc (1st Hons) Naval Architecture MSt Manufacturing Leadership

Lots of leaders claim that the growth and development of their teams is extremely important but it is only exceptional leaders who truly make this their highest priority.

Clever leaders know that using the job at hand to grow the person is much better than sending them off for classroom training that may or may not be used for months – by which time the person will have forgotten 80% of what they were taught.

Using the job at hand is incredibly useful to grow both technical and functional skills but also to develop people’s maturity of behaviour – such as being more collaborative, not speaking over others, etc.

The big questions therefore become:

  1. Are you even aware that using the job to grow your people is an ‘always on’ opportunity?
  2. Even if you know this:
  3. Is growth by accident with no help from you (they are growing themselves as necessity is the mother of invention)?
  4. Is growth just spontaneous or opportunistic (in response to an unplanned event or forced upon you)?
  5. Is growth deliberate? That is, you know exactly what growth (be it skills or maturity) you can extract for each person from the job at hand, either planned or unplanned?

For growth to be deliberate you must spend significant time with each member of your team in three ways.

  1. Team communications to have alignment on purpose, vision, goals, strategy etc. That is, the big picture of where they fit in.
  2. One-on-one sessions to first build strong relationships (Care), and then to describe in utter clarity what ‘good’ looks like in terms of the person’s individual contribution to the big picture, and to give regular feedback on how they are performing to that standard (Growth).
  3. Watching the Game to ensure the quality of one-on-ones is the highest possible in terms of feeding back current performance and constantly raising the bar on what people are capable of doing and being.

Unfortunately this takes a tremendous amount of time. In the busy, noisy, complex world of work you must give these activities higher priority than the other competing demands. This means having the courage to be brutal about who gets your time to ensure you create and defend time with your team.

A Leadership Diary blocks out the three buckets of time so people can’t book you for anything else. It also makes it more likely that you will have the interaction with your team for a specific reason, especially important for Watching the Game which in turn is vital to improve the quality of one-on-one discussions. If you don’t create and protect these times your diary becomes a leaky bucket and any useful time gets absorbed by the ‘day job’.

Growing people is your day job and – surprise, surprise – the more initiative, creativity and passion your people have, the more time you will end up with as a result for your own development. You grow by growing others.

Tony Flannigan
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