The idea of leaders grooming only a select few “stars” in a company is pretty familiar. For the last few decades, the collective wisdom about talent development has been surprisingly (or perhaps not) exclusive.
Many companies have focused on cherry-picking a handful of employees with the highest potential (the “stars”), and then doling out the best development opportunities, perks and promotions to that select group. Companies that follow this path feel that they’re devoting precious resources to the most deserving group of employees, and getting the biggest bang for their buck. The problem is that this approach leaves the vast majority of the workforce sensing little investment, other than encouragement to reach for tools and get developed on their own. What a loss. These employees feel less engaged and are not stretched to take on more challenging work demands leading to bigger results. Yet endless studies show greater business success requires employees who are engaged and challenged.
So, for some, the tides are changing. Many have come to believe that giving special treatment only to their star employees is bad for business. They fear their talented workers are moving on to organizations where they will feel more appreciated and get the development they pine for. Or worse yet, those ignored staffers will stay on, knowing full-well they’re not among the chosen few, and their on-the-job effort will reflect that spirit.
Companies can do much better by embracing the approach of having their managers “create development abundance” as an ongoing dimension of the work place. Smart companies equip managers to continually spread development opportunities across all their people, improving engagement and performance of their entire teams, not just the high potentials. Managers then become crucial as they have their people work with others in gaining skills and immediately apply their development on the job; primary approaches for development that sticks. This ongoing focus on everyone will improve business and contribute to an inclusive and optimal working climate.
This upcoming series of posts will explore three practices that managers can adopt in order to create an environment that will drive a wealth of development opportunities in the workplace for everyone. Stay tuned, the upcoming posts will explore how managers can:
• Decide there is “enough for all” and act on it
• Shift around work assignments to expand development
• Selectively use others’ challenges for your team’s growth
Is your company equipping managers to create an environment that provides a lot of development opportunities for their people? We’d love to hear about it.
Published in ASTD Human Capital Blog, Sept.13, 2013