What's development got to do with it?

What’s development got to do with it?

Everything … and nothing. For many, this time of year is the annual look back at how you did and look forward to what you want to do. Whether your company engages in formal or informal annual reviews, many of us dislike the process.

One component of this time honored business tradition is setting development goals. For many managers, this is an area they avoid – either not knowing how to coach an employee or because there aren’t any incentives for employees to achieve development goals. So these goals tend to become nothing – the employee doesn’t grow, the manager is frustrated, and the employee leaves for other opportunities.

I’d like to challenge you this year to think differently about development goals. I use them in three different ways:

For newer employees 

Areas where I want or need them to learn more about their new role

  • Example: Become a competent user of this software system by June 30. Attend 2 classes and use the system to conduct the analysis of two projects.

For existing employees

Developing a new skill or learning about another area of the company

  • Example: Do side-by-side listening of the customer relations team at least 3 times this year. Report to the team what you learned and how that will impact our work. 
  • Example: Become an expert user of this software system by June 30. Attend 2 classes and train at least one other person to use advanced features.

For employees that need a boost in their performance 

Opportunities that will help them grow in areas where they might be lacking.

  • Example: Develop consulting expertise as evidenced by feedback from project stakeholders and project targets. Attend class at EVCC, shadow Julie on her key project, and develop a work plan for the XYZ project. We’ll meet bi-weekly to review your progress.
  • Example: Develop team into a high performing unit, as evidenced by fewer employee and customer complaints, higher volume, and improved quality. Attend class at EVCC and develop a work plan. We’ll meet bi-weekly to review your progress.

Development goals aren’t just fluff. They can be used to develop a strong team into a high performing team. It does take some practice (maybe a class at EVCC to hone your skill?), but that practice can turn into a skill. You’ll become a manager sought out by others for developing strong, competent staff.

Here are a couple of my favorite resources:

“First, Break all the Rules.” Buckingham, Marcus & Coffman, Curt. Simon & Schuster.
“Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em.” Kaye, Beverly & Jordan-Evans, Sharon. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

About the author: 

Brenda Frost is the senior manager of provider communications at Premera Blue Cross and an instructor for EVCC leadership courses.