No question about it, organizations need processes and policies to put development on the right path. Yet, we regularly hear from managers that programs requiring detailed forms and meetings such as: performance management, IDP’s and succession planning, feel piled on top of their day jobs. Often managers admit to treating them transactionally, which, as we know, has little impact on employee performance and development.
What to do? In a recent article in INC. Magazine, Theresa Wellbourne highlights how to counter organizational processes that weigh us down, sap energy, and do not seem to get the intended results. The solution? Random management acts: small, informal actions by managers that energize employees, and lead to better results. In effect, they break up support into small, daily doses.
We found that is exactly what managers who are exceptional at developing people do. Everyday they engage in short interactions that electrify talent development. It becomes part of their mindset and repertoire to spot openings for random acts of development. They link these actions to the company processes, helping to bring in more energy and moving their impact from being transactional to being transformational.
Here are some ideas from managers, who bring formal company development processes to life, sparking employee growth everyday.
Small, random acts for performance management and development plans: use questions backed up with support. Individual development plans are often add-ons to performance management and left in the document. Managers who energize this aspect of IDP’s told us they regularly ask employees questions such as “What new skills can you learn this month that will increase your performance results? How can I help you better grow these skills?” That way the managers get their people thinking about development as part of getting better results. And, their people know that the manager is invested in their growth.
Small, random acts for succession planning: spot stretch opportunities to get employees ready sooner. Some managers told us that they work in advance of the succession planning process to spot targeted assignments for specific employees. They are vigilant for every opportunity to re-shape or add new tasks that come up. That way they give high potential employees an extra edge in improving or proving skills. In fact they set the expectation that these employees keep their eyes open and suggest “unplanned” opportunities for development in the work setting.
Small, random acts for company required training: before training, assign employees to become knowledge experts. Sometimes the organization needs to get the word out on company initiatives and provides across the board training to get everyone up to speed. One manager told us he adds spice to the process by breaking his team into “knowledge experts” for the various components of the training. He asks them to report back on great examples of positive applications of training concepts and how it moves their department and the company forward. Managers can even add the spark of competition by giving a score sheet for quality of sub team reports.
Small random acts related to score cards: have employees translate numbers into guidance for adding impact. Upper management regularly requires numeric department reports on targeted goals. Ask employees to find the best real case examples of challenges and successes in reaching the targets and how these cases impacted the value brought to the company (positively or negatively). Have them share stories at the next staff meeting and they will learn, in depth, how their efforts contribute to success.
These are just a few of the many ways managers we’ve met engage in small random acts of management that energize their troops, enliven processes and spark talent development. With this type of support, they have moved those processes out of their transactional category and have made them truly transformational!