Break the Mold: Improve Leadership Development

When it comes to Leadership Development, we tend to want to let our system dictate the direction of where things should go. HR loves to have performance management systems that keep things in check.

We have “annual” cycles for checking in with people to make sure they get their yearly dose of feedback.  Employees begrudgingly participate and Supervisors take a passing look at the process to fill out the endless forms and force rank their staff.

People then set goals that aren’t really development goals. They are “goals” to shore up your weaknesses, because development continues to be focused on filling the gaps in what you don’t do well.  We all agree that this is the best path for the employee, and then everyone files the review away until one day before the next annual cycle. Then, it gets dusted off and people hastily fill out the next form to make sure it’s complete for HR . . . and development NEVER occurs !!

We need to break out of this never ending death spiral and do the one thing that we refuse to do – treat development individually vs. collectively.

It amazes me when companies state that people are their #1 asset, but they won’t spend one hour with them A YEAR.

Recently, I’ve been trying this individual approach with our Executive Leadership, and it works.  It has allowed us to truly take the time to look at the fantastic strengths they bring every day to work and we are focusing on how to leverage them.

Also, the challenges that they all face can be addressed through their strengths. We aren’t taking the approach that most HR functions take by continuing to list the factors that will continue to be challenges for people. We want to reduce the challenges by making sure that they are reviewed, addressed and given a chance to improve.

The other very different approach is that there is no set cycle or annual schedule. We’re meeting with people one-on-one monthly to see how their development is going. We’re looking to provide resources and, most importantly, we’re being intentional. This isn’t the “next trend” or “best practice.” This is an intentional decision to take the time to develop our leaders so that they, in turn, will continue to drive our company forward.

So, break the mold. Quit following the collective. Highlight the individual. It’s worth the time!

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