Leadership Perspective: A Manager’s Greatest Gift
One of the most common questions I run in to as a coach is “who is responsible for developing employees?” There are three basic responses I’ve run in to over the last several years:
- Some companies will tell you that the employee is responsible for their career, and then walk away from all developmental activities, providing little or no support. Employees become disengaged, and frustrated as they continue their employment – or they leave.
- Some companies will take on the responsibility wholeheartedly, providing all kinds of training in a variety of areas (usually online training), but leaving it open for the employee to sign up and take the classes. Essentially, they have half-heartedly taken on development, but the employee is responsible, AND on their own. Some employees will run with this, either developing their own plan or hiring someone to help them develop their plan, and signing up for training that supports them where they are.
- The third response is from companies who provide all types of training, both internally (online and group in-person training) and externally (via tuition reimbursement). In addition, managers have been trained to help their employees focus on what they would like their career to be, and work with them to create a structure for them to get there. In short, it is a joint venture!
Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye have written a short AND practical book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, to help managers maneuver their way through sometimes uncomfortable conversations with their employees. They state clearly, a number of times, that “responsibility rests squarely with the employee, and that your role (the manager’s) is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action.” This role centers around talking, rather than doing the heaving lifting, and they have set out to help you (the manager) do just that!
The book stresses that the manager’s role is in acting as a thinking partner, a sound-board, and a coach. This is done by having short and frequent conversations with your employees. By doing so, you begin building a relationship with them that lets them know that you care about them, and are there to inspire, support and encourage them. You are creating a connection that will go far beyond the boundaries of your time together.
Action belongs to the employee. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a coach was that if my clients were not willing to be coached, and take action, there was nothing I could do. The work, the deep and introspective thinking, belongs to the employee. The most exciting lesson I learned in my time as a leader was that the efforts I made to stimulate thought and create connections by spending time, and in conversation, with my employees was the most satisfying.
Not only is this short book helpful for managers, it is also extremely helpful for career coaches, and counselors. It is chock full of helpful questions, tools, and insights to support and facilitate a genuinely caring conversation. I hope you enjoy it, I know I did!
Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, and Phoenix, AZ, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.