One your biggest responsibilities as a leader is helping your team members identify the places they need to grow and then giving them the opportunities to learn those skills.
Even though the members of your team might be high performing, they can always achieve the next level of performance. One your biggest responsibilities as a leader is helping them identify the places they need to grow and then giving them the opportunities to learn those skills. As you think about an individual’s development plan, there are some very clear steps that you can take to help them get to that next level.
First, look at the skills that are required based on the competencies defined by that role. Different roles require different sets of skills and you should be able to document for each role what the set of skills is for somebody to perform well in that role. Your job as a leader is to look at the next level of performance that that individual can step into and say at their current level they’re fine and they’re meeting all the competency requirements but if I were to promote them or look at expanded responsibilities for that person, how would they stack up at that next level of performance?
Once you’ve identified the gaps, you have to take a moment to think about why the gap exists. Is is that we’ve never trained this person on this skill? Is is they’ve never had an opportunity to demonstrate the skill? Once you have an understanding of why that gap exists, you need to sit down with that individual and discuss why they think the gap exists. Help them understand where they currently perform, where you expect them to perform, and what that gap looks like in terms of actual demonstrable skills that you should be seeing every single day.
Once those gaps are identified, identify specific projects or specific deliverables that the individual can take on as their responsibilities—where they’re going to be able to start performing those tasks and building those skills. Ask for their commitment to filling those gaps, because if somebody doesn’t want to grow, no matter how hard you push them, they’re not going to step into that next role. By getting their commitment to that growth, they’re going to be much more receptive to taking on additional responsibilities, going to additional training, and working a little bit harder in areas they’re not yet comfortable.
Once you both have agreement, document that agenda and lay it out as their individual development plan. In targeting their development toward specific projects you give the individual two things. One is you give them real-world experience performing the activity that they’re not yet familiar with. Second, you give them clarity and focus. You help them link the competencies to actual behaviors so they can spend their time dedicated to filling that skill gap. My rule is they should be able to do 70% of that project very easily without a lot of effort and that incremental 30% is where they’re going to develop and learn and grow.
Document their growth over time and renew the gap filling cycle of understanding. Great, you’ve built these competencies. Here’s the next set of gaps we need to fill. Here are the corresponding projects. Then you just continue with that cycle over time. Hopefully, by the time their annual review comes around, you can say, “Here are the projects you performed against and here are the new competencies that you have.”
So your role as a leader, in terms of developing others, really boils down to understanding what the requirements are for their role from a competency standpoint and then identifying gaps and tying them to very specific projects. And in doing so, that individual will see themselves grow over time.
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