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The early months of the year mark an important time to consider how managers are going to help build successful, sustained engagement by helping more employees become ‘Investors’ (employees who have a strong emotional bond with the organisation and identify closely with its purpose) as opposed to ‘Savers’ (employees who do the job but don’t connect emotionally with it). Management consultant Jane Sparrow gives some tips.
Most managers intuitively know they have a massive influence in how people feel about their work. It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. But the practical, day-to-day support in helping managers move from ‘Savers’ to ‘Investors’ can sometimes be elusive. Making time for personal development is key to creating ‘Investors’ and is an area where managers can really make a difference.
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So, why not use those early months as the perfect time to focus on the year ahead and ensure that both managers AND their teams have their developmental targets and objectives set. Here is my guide to help make personal development sessions as effective as possible.
– Firstly, remind managers the targets are for personal development. It is not about discussing financial targets, performance indicators or resources. This is about them, as people, and want they want and need from work to help make it more purposeful, meaningful and enjoyable – thus delivering peak performance.
– Development plans are personal, designed as a growth and retention lever to create ‘Investors’. So, what is in one person’s plan could be quite different from another. For a ‘rising star’ you may well want to focus development around leadership and management skills. For someone that is a key operational talent (someone that is critical to the business but not necessarily ambitious and looking to climb the ladder), the development plan could be something very different that acts as a retention lever. For example, the opportunity to learn a skill unrelated to the job or have time to contribute to a community project.
– It takes confidence for managers to create a set of development plans that are different for each individual. Seek support from HR as they can actively help with this by suggesting opportunities such as shadow mentoring or external training courses that managers may not have considered. This is especially important for operational talent as, in my experience, managers often don’t know what they have the permission to offer in this area.
– The best development conversations often happen outside formal work settings. If you can, leave the building and go for a coffee, a walk or lunch. If it has to be in the office, try and find somewhere neutral rather than sitting behind a desk.
– Before managers can set objectives with their team, they need to be clear about their own developmental targets. Managers need to be encouraged to make their targets real, practical examples that they can literally get hold of. Positively challenge vague statements of intent (I want to be better at coaching) with details of how, why and when this will happen.
– Finally, it’s worth remembering that developmental conversations take time. It’s a slower, more thoughtful and reflective dialogue that’s required. Be realistic about how much time it will take and ensure the day is free from distractions. Take notes so you can remember what was talked about and jot down observations and comments throughout the discussion. This will all help provide insight for engagement plans for each member of the team.
*Jane Sparrow runs a management and leadership consultancy and is author of The Culture Builders. Check out Jane’s blog here – it has tips and advice for managers and her website has tools, including video footage of leadership role models.