Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Employee Development is Not my Job

Well, employee development really is my job. However, I've been reflecting on the opinion of others lately, that seems to be something along the lines of 'I'm just a front line manager, I have no real decision making power and cannot control how big or small my budget is year to year, so I do not feel that I should be taking the primary responsibility for my employees' development'. It's a pretty bleak outlook, but not rare.

So how do OD, L&D and HR staffers re-engage managers who feel disempowered, so that they in turn can empower their staff? It's a tall order, and not something I've yet got down to a formula. However, I have found a few commonalities between basic adult learning principles and ways to engage with staff (managers and employees alike) on the idea of 'doing' development.

  1. Authenticity - deciding to be genuine in all relationships invites reciprocity and brings a level of reality to situations. It also cuts out most of the weasel-word justifications that fill up so much of business meetings and bad news emails.
  2. Ownership - both communally and individually, this is essential if anyone is to feel like they can effect their career trajectory. Recent graduates, line managers, HR business partners and whole teams should feel ownership over *something* other than their ability to write a letter of resignation.
  3. Accountability - the flipside of ownership is definitely accountability. Where accountability to someone else exists, regardless of how noble our individual intentions are, there is a greater motivation to achieve.
  4. Transparency - by extending the concept of accountability, I believe transparency is important. Decision makers can help engage those less involved by being transparent about the decision making process. It can also help to manage expectations and build a sense of authenticity with those that you might not have the chance to build an individual relationship with. For under-resourced, time-poor professionals, this is all too important. By allowing others to discover your authenticity for themselves by being transparent, there is much more likelihood of moving a little further away from disengagement and a little closer to self-directed development.