Providing Growth Opportunity for Your Direct Reports
As your starting point, you and your report need to make time for the meeting. You should agree on a mutually convenient time and make sure that neither of you have appointments immediately before or after the meeting – you need to give your full attention to each other. In order to ensure these meetings are productive, you need to do your homework beforehand. Gather information on the reports, their values, preferences, capabilities, and interests in terms of career progression. Record concrete, possible, and realistic development opportunities based on the development strategy you identified as appropriate. The appropriate development strategy is based on which category your direct reports fall into.
During your preparation, focus your attention on obtaining a few key bits of information. Find out what skills your direct reports possess. You should also have a reasonable knowledge of your direct reports' interests and values. Finally, based on your direct reports' unique skills, experience, interests, and values, discover what opportunities are available for them.
Conducting the meeting
The goal of a career development meeting is to create a dialogue with your direct reports, learn more about them, and establish a plan to help them achieve their objectives. Conducting effective meetings with your direct reports involves four distinct guidelines:
- be clear – Be clear on the purpose and importance of the meeting. You need to communicate to your reports that their development is important to you – this is essential to building trust. If your reports feel you're simply going through the motions, they will not be receptive to you or the plan you're suggesting.
- assign responsibility – Assign responsibility for the development plan to your direct reports. It's very important that your reports understand that they are ultimately responsible for their own development and that you're there to help.
- share opinions – Share your opinions with your direct reports and verify with them that your perceptions are correct. This is where your preparation prior to the meeting pays off – having done your homework, you can provide valuable feedback. Communicate what you think are your reports' capabilities, interests, values, and preferences. Once you've presented your feedback, ask for your reports' opinions. Listening carefully to their responses is crucial, as it enables you to be in tune with your reports and what they want from their career.
- discuss development opportunities – Discuss, with your reports, the development opportunities you've identified, but be careful not to create false expectations, and again, listen to their responses and reactions. Once again, proper preparation in advance of these meetings is crucial for providing your reports with the information they need. Reports who have been identified as underachievers must address performance issues and improve in their current positions before they can be considered for assignment to new projects.
Agreeing on a development plan
A successful development plan must accomplish four main objectives:
- challenge the employee – Growth comes through challenge, so it's essential to the success of a development plan that it sufficiently challenges the employee. This is especially true in the case of overachievers who can become bored or disillusioned by a development plan that lacks sufficient challenge.
- align the strategy with the report's development needs and the team and company objectives – Another key to a successful plan is aligning the plan to the development strategy identified for your direct reports – it must play to their strengths. It must also be aligned to the team and company objectives.
- identify deliverables, actions, and timeframes – This objective is achieved through a structure that includes deliverables, specific actions, and timeframes. Success also depends on your ability to define the plan's objectives.
- include follow-ups on report's progress – Finally, you need to establish a follow-up schedule to track the report's progress. You should also remind the reports that they own the plan, and are responsible for it.
As a manager, you've done your homework, met with your reports, and shared your thoughts on what development opportunities they would like to pursue. Now it's time to suggest a course of action. There are a number of development opportunities you can pursue with your reports. For example, you could suggest training or peer coaching. You could also suggest a situation where the report is representing the team. Other options include changing your reports' job descriptions, creating special projects, or assisting the boss.
You can customize your development opportunity suggestions depending upon your reports' individual needs. Customized suggestions lead to greater job satisfaction and increased productivity. When you provide them with the right opportunities, your reports can see how important their work is to the organization's overall success. This understanding can lead to greater job satisfaction and increased productivity.
Providing development opportunities involves three things: preparing for the meeting, conducting the meeting, and agreeing on a development plan. Prior to meeting, you need to prepare – collect all the relevant information so that you can make informed decisions on the direction of the report's career development. Conducting effective meetings with your report involves four distinct guidelines: being clear on the purpose of the meeting, assigning responsibility for and ownership of the plan to the report, sharing your opinions with your report, and discussing development opportunities you've identified. Finally, you and your report need to agree on the best development plan. To ensure that the plan is effective, it must be sufficiently challenging for the report and align with the development strategy you identified for your report. It should include deliverables, specific actions, timeframes, and a follow up schedule to monitor progress.