Employees’ interests to develop and grow their careers can be like a strong craving for their special food. They may hold it off for a little while. They may find a temporary substitute. But that hankering will persist until they truly satisfy the hunger. Sure, there are company training and career tools, and the semi- annual formal discussions, but the satisfaction of having career development served up on a regular basis, makes the manager the most crucial ingredient in providing the meal. When the manager is regularly involved in growth and career conversations, then engagement, retention and performance are increased.
Ranger, a two year old bloodhound was laid off this summer from the Polk County sheriff’s office due to budget cuts. Did he have a “ruff” time getting a job? No way. In no time at all he found a new job with the Bend Police Department. Did he have all the experience to meet the requirements: track missing people and locate evidence? Not yet. But Ranger is a good ole dog with inborn Bloodhound instincts, a pleasant personality and a base of police dog skills. Bend Police are thrilled to have him and will gladly train him for his new tasks. Corporate hiring managers would do well to hire the way the Bend Police Department hired Ranger
We’ve seen lots of articles lately on mentoring. We are impressed by all the potential development this method can deliver. But sometimes managers choose this solution for helping their employees grow and find out later it did not get the job done. Turns out, there is a better solution.
Why We Looked Behind the Door
One of the two foundational practices of exceptional development managers is “tap the psychological side of development.” We know that talking about anything psychological is bound to make many managers uncomfortable; they feel unprepared to use this in a conversation with employees. Yet it matters in ways that leaders may not even suspect.
During graduate school at Colorado State University, I was thrilled that Hewlett Packard, then a medium sized innovator with a big plant outside Fort Collins, offered me an internship. The assignment was to start right after my east coast winter break. On my eager drive back, a truck sideswiped me on a very snowy Interstate-70.