Your Employees: Help Them Grow or They Will Grow with Someone Else

Now is not the moment to be cavalier about making the time to help your employees develop greater skills. In a workplace that changes at breakneck speed, employees are looking to their workplaces to help them stay current, learn new things and get better.

The LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report shared that 94% of employees say that if their company invested more in career development, they would stay longer. It is all about the skills.

What time and resources do you make available for your employees to develop, grow, learn and expand what they know?

Before you answer, consider that development can take several forms in the workplace. Two of those include:

1. Formal education. Whether created by an organization’s learning and development department or through purchased programs, make new skill development available to all employees. Consider a required and elective skills approach. Define the required skills by job. Make electives available to any employee, regardless of position. Encourage those employees who want to constantly learn to select additional topics or skills to continue their development. Remember, not everyone learns the same way. Consider offering all formal education in a variety of learning methods, whether that’s via classroom, webinar, gaming, self-directed or narrated, among others. Take the time to learn what method works best for your team and look to provide your skill training in at least two different methods to encourage greater participation and learning.

2. On the job feedback development. Some of the best skill development happens in the moment. Providing mindful feedback, a process to tune in to both what works and doesn’t work with employee performance, is key to helping employees learn the most in any workplace moment. Though most managers provide “constructive criticism” when they see challenging performance, feedback is the reminder that on-the-job training is about both successful and unsuccessful performance. Don’t miss an opportunity to use a success as a teachable moment, focusing on how to do more of what works, and why it worked. Including this encourages a more responsive employee when there comes a time to share something that didn’t work and why. The lessons learned in these moments are timely, personal and encourage accountability. These lessons stick.

Employees say they want more development. And you want them to have it, as well, because it makes them more valuable as employees. This is a true win-win solution. Don’t be concerned that your employees will learn from you and leave. Instead, focus on developing them and building an employee-focused workplace culture. This encourages their performance and their retention.

Take Action
Identify the skills needed. Create materials to provide the skills in a variety of learning methods to encourage participation and learning. Then, train managers to think and act more as coaches to review employee performance, focusing on both what works and doesn’t work, with the intention of making each a teachable, on-the-job learning environment.

Commit to creating a clear and easy path to helping your employees develop, grow and get better.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Do Your Jobs have a Value Statement?

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Leaders – Seek out, Accept and Act on Feedback

By Jay Forte

Many of today’s leaders and managers still think they have all the answers, a way of thinking that remains from our industrial age. But in a world that constantly changes, it is important that all mangers and leaders be adaptive – that they be open to seeing things differently, be open to new ideas and realize being in charge doesn’t always mean they do things well.

Feedback, not constructive criticism, is critical for every manager and leader. The term “feedback” relates to commenting on both successful and unsuccessful performance. Providing supportive feedback can help any employee or manager do more of what’s working and address those things that are not working; it builds the employee-manager relationship. Avoiding or rejecting feedback creates strained manager-employee relationships, robs leaders and managers of the opportunity to see how their performance is affecting others and misses the opportunity for their development. All organizations should be able to provide meaningful feedback both up and down the chain of command.

In all of my mindfulness training with CEOs, I introduce a process to help them stop and notice what is effective and ineffective with their performance. If there are things about your management style, how you deal with challenging situations, your communication effectiveness or even your ability to share a clear and cohesive vision that are ineffective, you will benefit from the feedback. Solicit, accept and act on feedback. The goal is to constantly improve.

So, the question is, in your definition of manager or leader, are you open to feedback, not just applause?

If I were to ask your employees whether you are open to feedback, would they have the same response?

Here are three practical tips to seek out, accept and use feedback.

  1. Give your team permission to openly share their feedback. Go ask for feedback. Share how you best process their feedback so they can deliver it successfully. Let them know you are focused on constant improvement and that their input matters. This goes for both things done well and things that need improving.
  2. Accept, applaud and thank employees who deliver feedback successfully, wisely and professionally. This encourages them to continue to deliver the feedback. It also encourages a more successful manager-employee relationship as both parties have honest conversations that are results-based and committed to improvement.
  3. Act on feedback whenever possible. Participating in feedback and actually using the feedback are two different things. Employees will stop providing feedback if they feel it is ignored or not used. If the feedback is meaningful, work to implement it.

Take Action

Have a meeting with your team to discuss the value of feedback for all employees, including management, and how to do it successfully. Make a point of ensuring that feedback is for both successes as well as challenges to encourage better balance in your feedback. Acknowledge when it is done well to encourage its continual use. Its goal is to encourage behaviors to do more of what works and to improve what’s not working – at any level.


Consider reading Are Your Employees Sitting on the Sidelines?

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Your Personal Board of Directors

By Jay Forte

There is an expression: “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

We can’t help but be influenced by those around us. So consider this: how wise and selective are you about who you hang out with, who you listen to, who you read and who you follow?

Organizations have a board of directors, a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who provide counsel to help management see past the myopic day-to-day events and to understand and focus on the larger view. The board is intentionally made up of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to help the organization see and consider things in a broader and more diverse way.

Now imagine: what if you had a personal board of directors?

As a coach, I always recommend my clients create a personal board of directors, comprised of those go-to voices in life that you trust to give you sound, clear, honest feedback. People who care about you and your ability to fully self-realize.

Your personal board of directors is for you to hand-select. When considering who to add to your personal board of directors, consider:

  • Who in your life can mentor, support or guide you when it is needed?
  • Who can provide honest, caring and meaningful feedback?
  • Who can be relied on to speak from their heart?
  • Who can be direct yet supportive and caring?
  • Who has perspectives that you value and trust?
  • Who can enable expanded thinking to help you explore areas you may not have considered to help you achieve your potential?

There’s no right or wrong number of people to have on your personal board of directors. I, personally, have four. They are my go-to sources when I have something important to consider or decide, or when I want to expand my perspectives to get past a blind spot.

I don’t go to them all the time. But when I do, I know they will be there – wise, present and interested in helping me.

So, consider creating your personal board of directors in 2018. Who will you select?

Remember, this is not a popularity contest. Think about who will provide wise, caring, supportive guidance and perspectives to help you sort through some of life’s situations, challenges and opportunities. Consider inviting them onto your personal board of directors. There is no requirement that those close to you be on your board. You may find your board members come from your professional life or are people you have met over the years.

You may be asking yourself, why would someone want to be on my personal board of directors?

The answer: they care about you. You make them feel important. They feel their opinions and perspectives matter. And they learn about themselves and their own perspectives as they help you with yours.

It is truly a win-win.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. Think about the people you admire most. Why do you admire them?
  2. What behaviors, goals, etc. from those you admire do you want to mirror and implement in your own life?
  3. How can a personal board of directors help you get and stay focused in your life?


Consider reading How to Deliver Employee Feedback that Gets Heard

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How to Deliver Employee Feedback That Gets Heard

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

Most managers think their role is to fix, to watch for areas where their employees miss the mark and correct that behavior. Though this is certainly a component of being a manager, the more critical and meaningful responsibilities of a manager are to guide, support, develop and coach employees into significant or greater performance. If your communication is primarily critical or corrective – instead of supporting, encouraging and empowering – you risk disengaging your employees. They’ll just tune you out.

So how can you get your employees to hear you, regardless of whether you’re sharing supportive or corrective feedback?

Here are my top 3 tips on how to deliver feedback in an intentional manner to ensure employees hear you.

  1. Be present. You can’t offer feedback – supportive or corrective – if you have no idea what’s going on. Most of us only notice things when they go really wrong, which means we’re clearly missing the things that go right – prime opportunities to provide supportive feedback or applause. Tune in. Pay attention. You can’t guide, support and coach without the facts.
  2. Make feedback only about behaviors. Feedback should only be information about how someone acts or acted, not who someone is. You may be upset about the actions of your employee, but that doesn’t make them bad, horrible or awful. Reconnecting to, activating and developing employees’ core strengths is the purpose of powerful supportive or corrective feedback. Venting is unproductive.
  3. Deliver feedback in a way the other person will understand. Feedback has two parts: content and delivery. Be sure both of these align to who is receiving the feedback. Technical explanations to someone non-technical or raising your voice to someone who is timid and shy will guarantee you won’t be heard. Choose what to say and be intentional in how you say it.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What type of feedback do you typically provide to your employees?
  2. In what ways can you change your approach to providing feedback to ensure your content and delivery is appropriate for the employee you’re speaking with?
  3. How will you inspire and engage employees with well-delivered feedback?


Consider reading Succeeding at Difficult Conversations

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This is a modified version of the full article, which originally appeared on Jay’s LinkedIn page, December 2015.

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