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Simplifying Development Talk With Your Employees

Recently, I conducted exit interviews for a company. One employee who was leaving stated he wanted want more engagement, development, and challenge from his job.

What could his manager have done to get him more engaged and challenged? This can be a tough question to answer, especially since managers expect employees to own their development plans. As a manager, are you wondering how to kick off those discussions?

Start with a one-on-one in-person meeting with the employee, in which you listen carefully, giving them your full attention. In preparation for the meeting, ask the employee to be ready to discuss their strengths and the areas they want to work on during the year.

One of my clients, an IT manager, polls his team using Survey Monkey as a prerequisite to their meeting. Regardless of how you do it, get prepared on both ends.

Most employee development plans just list what they are working on for the business, in the form of business goals. Your personal development plan’s goal is to cultivate those underlying skills and competencies necessary to execute on those business plans. This is foundational work and requires a bit more thinking.

For example, if the business plan calls for 25% more sales, the personal development plan should focus on skill sets needed to facilitate that. Those could be: Implement a more productive work flow, improve time management, learn more strategic selling techniques, practice better organization skills, deepen product knowledge or specialization in order to sell higher-end products.

Once you learn their strengths, then discuss what they are passionate about. If they have energy around something, it will be easier to stick with it all year. Let’s say they are passionate about connecting more with customers, and their strengths are strong communication and presentation skills, and a natural creativity and drive for innovative solutions.

Now it’s time to put it all together. Let’s say that one of the organization’s needs is to drive more intimacy with customers. The Venn diagram below shows how the intersection of these three areas – the employee’s strengths and passions, and organization’s needs – can help you and the employee focus on a meaningful development project.

The result will be something that is not only is helpful to the business and will stretch the employee to develop a new creative program. It can be a tremendous growth opportunity for the employee.

Fast forward to the next quarter, next half or next year. Ask the employee what they learned about themselves, how it felt to leverage their strengths, how that impacted their confidence, and what the challenge of creating a new program taught them. It is important to discuss what they learned and how that prepared them to be ready for the next challenge.

If you want employees who are engaged in their work and excited about their development, include these three key areas in your discussions.

What have your most passionate and least passionate employees taught you about development? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

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