Category Archives: Developing People

Team Development

Team development

Doesn’t every manager have a responsibility for team development?

As recruitment continues to be a challenge, I make no apologies for continuing this week with my theme of team development.

When I worked in the corporate world as head of training I was really proud of the training and development we offered. We had a dedicated residential training centre set in 7 acres, with fabulous facilities for chefs’ training and management development, which demonstrated our commitment to investing in people. But just because we had the training centre didn’t mean that was the only opportunities for development.

I had responsibility for a team who supported the training and development of over 55,000 employees. There was no way we were going to be able to touch all those people directly, or that everyone would have a chance to come to the training centre in Surrey.

Probably over 90% of training took place on job or supported by activity on job. And this is the reality in most businesses. Just because you don’t have a dedicated training team or training centre doesn’t mean training goes by the wayside. Far from it.

I believe every line manager has a responsibility towards their team’s development, whether that is on job coaching or simply identifying what training and development they need, so that team members feel valued. Even if their long term future isn’t with your business, if you have done everything you can to support that person get where they want to be, at least when the time comes for them to move on, they will leave with a good impression of your business, and become an ambassador.

Here are some considerations that every manager should be able to fulfil.

Development discussions

How do they see their role & contribution, now or in the future? They may have a different idea of how their role contributes to the business or how it could evolve. You may have one idea of their next role, but they may have aspirations in other areas (just look at how some people have taken on new projects during lockdown).

Strengths

Last week we discussed building on strengths. What do you see as their greatest talent, or when do you see them working really well? What are the things that they love to do? And if you don’t know the answer to this question, you need to ask! What do you/others like or value about them? Maybe they have some talent, or a flare for something that they aren’t even aware of.

Regular feedback

To build on strengths, continue to give feedback and recognition, and discuss how to make things even better.

Spot on job opportunities

There are always opportunities all around, but you and they will only spot these if you know what your objectives are. Such as

  • Cross train – Job swaps – Delegate
  • Buddying
  • Staff champions – Mentoring others
  • Supplier support
  • Daily activity ~ daily briefings ~ debriefs
  • Learning from mistakes & successes
  • Projects

Make a plan

Ensure everyone in your team has a development plan. It doesn’t have to be grand; simple small projects and activities making incremental improvements all add up, and help people feel as if they are being stretched. Let the team member come up with their ideas and suggestions to meet their development needs; they may suggest things you hadn’t thought of, and the chances are if they suggest it, it’s something they will feel comfortable with, so it’s more likely to happen.
The key headings are: What ~ why ~ how ~ where ~ when ~ who

Ownership

The number one person who loses out if their development doesn’t happen is the team member themselves. Give them ownership, and trust them to make sure it happens. That doesn’t mean you abandon them, they will still need support and to be reviewed, but if they’ve been involved with drawing up the plan they will hopefully already be bought in and committed to it.

So you really don’t need to have a swanky training centre or a dedicated training team to demonstrate your commitment to training. You and your line managers all have their part to play in ensuring your team have opportunities to develop so they feel valued

If you only do one towards your team’s development:

Get your diary out and set dates to meet with each of your team to discuss their ongoing development, and ask your managers and supervisors to follow suit.

Why development matters video

 


Planning Development

planning developmentPlanning Development based on strengths and stretch

Most managers think of staff training and team development to achieve one of two things:

  • to fix someone’s weaknesses
  • as a way of grooming somebody for promotion

Although both of these are relevant in their own way, they can leave you and your team wanting.

So here’s an alternative way to approach your team’s development…

Seeing strengths versus fixing faults

It’s all too easy to end up with everybody becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

Whilst it’s good to cross train your team so you make cover easy, you don’t want to end up everyone mediocre in everything, but expert in nothing.

Imagine what would happen if you were to focus on people’s strengths instead – in the same way you might expect an athlete or members of a football team to hone their skills in areas where they already perform well. You could help them go from a strong performance to real excellence in their areas of greatest ability.  How much more motivated would team members be if they could focus on what they’re best at?

Everyone has skills, it’s just that different jobs require different skills. It takes a certain type of skill to organise an hectic event, to calm down an irate customer, to clean a room to a high standard inside 25 minutes.

Often these are skills employees don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted.  When you recognise these strengths it can boost confidence, and often the tasks they’re good at are those they enjoy more, so it helps to keep them engaged.

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at! But by focusing on individuals’ strengths you can balance your team so they complement potential shortcomings in others, so you can bridge any gaps you have elsewhere.

Stagnate versus stretch

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean you let them stagnate.

We often think of development as grooming people for promotion. This might be one outcome or intention, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of development. Even those who you believe have reached the limits of their capability or have no desire for more responsibility shouldn’t be left to stagnate.

After all, a bored employee is unlikely to shine and even less likely to wow you or your customers!

Look for opportunities to set new challenges within people’s current responsibilities. How can you add variety or stretch them further in areas where they’re already strong?

For example:

– asking them to find ways to make efficiencies or refine a process

– giving them responsibility for training others

– allocating ownership of specific procedures

By giving individuals ownership of particular tasks you create a sense of pride and responsibility.

You’ll be amazed what people can achieve when their strengths are recognised, and they’re given the authority to apply them.

This can also take the pressure off you as that person then becomes the go to person.

Sadly, it’s often only when people leave that we miss what they bring to the team. (….could that lack of recognition be the very reason they leave?)

Here’s an exercise you can carry out with your team to recognise their strengths to take into account before development planning.

Take Action

If you only do one thing towards planning development: take a step back and identify one strength – however small – for each one of your team members, and let them know you value this.

Planning development video

Photo credit: alysha-rosly



Barriers to Development

Barriers to Development

Last week’s blog focused on the importance of team development, and I promised to continue the theme this week by sharing with you the second topic I covered on last week’s Hoteliers’ Forum, which was barriers to development.

Having made a commitment to invest in your team’s development it can be frustrating when it doesn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. So let’s explore some of the barriers to development; the things that can lead to wasted time and effort, or worse, leaving your team members feeling undervalued.

Here are just 7 barriers to development I see, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

1. Too busy

If you’ve only recently reopened or your team members have only just returned to the workplace you’re probably thinking this isn’t a priority right now. Development, either for your team or your own personal development is one of those things that’s so easy to push down the priority list. This is probably the biggest barrier to development; if nothing happens today towards it, it’s not the end of the world, But, when it gets put off time and again it could leave you in limbo.

One of the reasons this happens is because we see it as a big task. But it doesn’t have to be. The majority of development takes place on the job, so providing you have a plan there will be opportunities nearly every day. But you won’t spot these opportunities unless you know what you’re looking for!

Schedule time in your calendar right now to sit down with each of your team to discuss their development. Even if this doesn’t take place until July or August, if they know there is a date in the diary it demonstrates your commitment to their development and gives them time to think about what they want and need.

2. No goals/direction

Development activities can be haphazard and wasteful if you don’t have clear expectations and a defined goal. That goal might be small, but always ask yourself (and the employee) what’s the outcome either of you are looking for as a result of that development activity.

If you both know the outcome it’s so much easier to determine what’s needed and to measure the result.

Set some mini goals now, so everyone has something to work towards, however small, until such time as you can sit down for a more in depth discussion with each of your team to discuss their development.

3. Don’t see the relevance

Maybe you have decided something would be good for someone’s development, but unless you involve them in this decision they may not see the relevance, particularly if it doesn’t fit in with their idea of what they need.

If people fail to see the relevance, you won’t get any buy in or commitment to any of the development activities you plan for them. You won’t always need to spell it out for them, particularly if they already have a personal development plan, but sometimes you’ll need to help people see how any development activities can make their job easier, more enjoyable, support colleagues, get them one step nearer to their dream job or promotion, anything that has a positive outcome for them.

4. Expecting instant results

Sometimes you, the team member or colleagues have high expectations. Be realistic with everyone concerned as to how long it might take for someone to get to a point where they are fully competent and feel confident. It takes time to absorb new learning and takes practise, with the opportunity to ask questions and experiment.

The sooner people can put things into practice the easier the transition to the workplace.

Schedule time for, and help people spot the opportunities to practise in a safe environment, where it won’t matter if they make a mistake. Don’t expect perfection and allow more time.

5. Don’t feel trusted

When people come to put new learning into practice, they need to have the authority and freedom to do this. Nobody wants their boss or another colleague breathing down their neck!

For example, if you put someone to work alongside another team member, but that team member won’t allow that person to do anything for fear they will not do it to standard, then they will never get to learn.

If people don’t feel trusted by others they will then start to doubt their own ability. And if they are fearful of making a mistake they will be unwilling to take that risk.

6. Lack of resources

Not being able to implement learning through lack of opportunity is one thing, But not having the right resources, such as the tools for the job, or the authority can be very frustrating for all parties concerned.

The most important resource is time. Time to implement their new skill or knowledge whilst it is still fresh in their mind.

7. Little or poor support

This is probably the second biggest barrier to development. When line managers don’t have the skills to give effective feedback or to coach others this reduces the opportunity to learn on job.

If not given the right encouragement and on-going support, progress will be slow, or even take a backwards step. People need to recognise what works. And if not working, to analyse why, and importantly, how to correct.

Anyone in a position where they need to help and support others’ development should have, at the very least, basic coaching skills.

 

If you only do one thing to avoid these barriers to development: Spot when they are there!

All of these barriers are avoidable once you recognise them. Look back over the past 2 weeks and ask yourself – have any of these barriers impacted your team’s development or led to missed potential development opportunities?

Related video, Conscious incompetence

 


Why team development is important

why team development is importantSo why is team development so important?

In my role I often hear managers and owners say, “What if I train them and they leave?” What they should be asking is “What if I don’t and they stay?”

As Henry Ford once said,  “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

This morning I am a guest on the Online Forum for Hoteliers, and will be sharing my thoughts on Team Development. I’m covering 3 topics, and thought I’d share the first of these today.

I can bet that whilst you’ve had team members either on furlough or working from home, that some of them will have taken the opportunity to learn, to do something towards their personal development. Whether that is something work related or simply something that interests them, isn’t the point. But what it demonstrates is that people want to learn, to grow and develop.

And if they are in a job that doesn’t satisfy that desire, the chances are they’ll either lose interest and motivation, or they’ll up and leave. Neither option is a good one for the business.

Developing people shouldn’t be something that’s reserved for management. It’s easy to assume that some people have no desire for development. They may have no desire to move into more senior roles or take on more responsibility, but that doesn’t mean we allow them to stagnate.

If you’re not convinced of the need to invest in people’s development, or you need to sell the idea to someone else, read on…

Here 5 good reasons why team development is worth the investment:

1. Shows you value them

Investing in your team in any way demonstrates that you believe them worthy of investment. It helps people feel they have been recognised. This in turn leads to them being more motivated and engaged. This is likely to have a positive impact on their performance both as a result of their engagement and their new skills/abilities. The more engaged and competent your team the better your customers’ experience.

And back to the concern of “What if I train them and they leave?”, not investing in your team could be the very reason they do leave. Which reminds me of something Richard Branson once said “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

2. Succession planning

It’s easy to think of succession planning simply about grooming people for more senior positions. But don’t ignore the need to cross train your team so they can cover not only in the short term, but also so they can take a sideways more to a new role or department at a later date. Succession plans shouldn’t be written in tablets of stone, but far better to have exposure to another role or department now, than when the time comes to make that move, that it’s not the role for them after all.

It can also be a positive development activity for the person currently in that role.  Spending time with a colleague showing them all that’s involved gives them a sense of pride as well as developing their coaching skills. Even if their potential successor has to wait a year or two to step into the role, both learn and grow as a result and have a great respect for each other.

3. Gives flexibility

The more you cross train and upskill across your team, the greater your flexibility. Don’t limit this just to cross training within a department. Inevitably there are times when one department is stretched and others are quiet, so if you have people who can switch to support the stretched team, so much the better.

It’s easy for a colleague to look on thinking that someone else’s job looks easy. But it’s only when they get a taste it first-hand that they realise the challenges associated with that role. So cross training will not only help the team to support one another, but it can also create a higher respect for each other’s roles.

4. Improves your employer brand

If you want to attract people who see joining your team as a career move rather than a fill in before finding their ideal role, you need to demonstrate there’s potential to grow and develop. If you’re not able to share what development opportunities there are, they’ll go to someone else who has a track record if investing in their team’s development.

Your existing team should always be your greatest advocates, so if they have positive stories to share about their own development you’re more likely to attract others …

5. Continuous improvement

People’s development doesn’t ever have an end date. There will always be things that one can improve on, however small. Yes, there may be times when they are on a steep learning curve, but once at the top, it’s important to look for those little incremental improvements that can all add up over time. And importantly not allow that person to stagnate.

If you only do one thing: Decide which of these 5 reasons is the most important one for you or your business and focus on that as your priority for now.

Next week I’ll share the second topic I’m covering with the Hoteliers’ Forum. Until then, have a good week.

Related posts:

Continuous Improvements can make a big difference

A-Z of managing people D is for development