As leaders we are always looking for ways to develop our team members to make them stronger and capable of taking on more responsibilities. This is not always as simple as assigning new work and sending them on their way (those who you can do that to are your rock stars!). You have to know your team members, what their aspirations are, how best they develop (hands on or book-learning) as well how they handle increased pressure that comes with more responsibilities.
Nurture and Nature
Developing your individual team members requires a delicate balance of pushing and pulling. By setting the expectations and providing the tools needed to take on the new responsibilities, it’s now on us as leaders to determine how best to instill the confidence in those individuals to do the job. It’s to be expected that perfection won’t be achieved (at least not right away) and that missteps will happen. How we handle that as leaders will help shape the development of those individuals as they take on those additional responsibilities and develop professionally. When those bumps in the road occur, we as leaders need to determine how best to handle each situation. By nurturing we provide that virtual “safety net” comfort to our team members we help instill the feeling of safety that they can take the odd misstep and feel safe in taking those risks. By providing the “nature” side of it, we as leaders can let them in on the consequences of these missteps and make them realize the cost of failing and that while they are still developing, the impacts of failure are still very real.
There is no better way to burn out a developing team member than to overload them with too many responsibilities. How many is too many is up to the individual and the leader but by overburdening someone who is good at their job with too many new tasks of which they have to learn and (attempt to) perfect will not only take away from the good work they’re doing but possibly discourage them from being a calculated risk taker (one of the great skills we all try to develop) which is the complete and polar opposite of what you are trying to achieve in the first place. You also don’t want to spoon feed additional roles as well when the individual is well-suited to take on even more, at the risk of disengaging them and making them feel they are not suited for more.
I listen to a lot of sports radio and one thing in common that I hear when I hear players and colleagues talk about great coaches is how well these great coaches communicate. By constantly providing feedback to their players (positive and constructive) in a manner that the player understands and respects is a key step to positive development. The same can be said for just about any scenario where a leader is trying to develop their team members. As they take on more responsibilities, providing constant feedback on what they are doing well as well as what they can improve in is vital to the successful development of your team.
Individual development is never easy. It takes commitment by both the individual and leadership. It also takes careful thought and planning as well as diligent execution (not unlike a project) to ensure that our individuals develop into the leaders of tomorrow.
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