If your company has experienced cutbacks, you’re undoubtedly busier than ever. While being extra busy, it’s important to remember that your staff still needs attention. As business leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to develop the people who work for us.
Through the performance management work I do with companies, I see that employees are starved for honest performance related feedback, and eager to develop their skills and capabilities. Motivated, skilled employees seek employment with companies that will help them grow and develop. If you want to keep bright, ambitious employees on your team, you need to proactively nurture and develop them.
Business leaders need to realize that the rate with which their company grows is directly tied to the rate with which their people grow. If your people grow and develop slowly, so will your company. If your people grow more rapidly, so will your company. People typically grow faster if they receive candid performance related feedback. Providing performance feedback requires courage. Unfortunately, many managers lack this necessary courage. They suffer from NPS (nice people syndrome). NPS is a nice way of saying that the business leader lacks the courage necessary to speak candidly about performance related issues.
Management is a contact sport
While it’s critical to have established processes in place for annual and semi-annual performance reviews, your responsibility to your employees doesn’t end there. Talk informally to your employees on a regular basis about how they’re doing. Ask about their goals and aspirations. If they are interested in moving up the corporate ladder, help them. You need to work together to identify the steps that can be taken to advance their careers. There are several benefits to nurturing your staff’s development within your organization:
- You will have a more motivated and loyal workforce.
- Your organization will have less turnover.
- Your company will achieve an accelerated growth rate (tied to your team’s individual rate of growth).
- Your training and development efforts will be rewarded by developing a deeper bench…again fueling future corporate growth.
The best most productive managers are the best teachers
As a manager, you need to be both teacher and coach. To ensure an effective staff development process, work with employees to identify and address areas of weakness. If you don’t have time for this type of one-on-one coaching, hire someone to help. Executive coaches can work with managers to:
- Identify, implement and follow through on the achievement of performance goals.
- Improve interpersonal and cross-functional communications.
- Strengthen cross functional team dynamics and team performance.
- Formalize various departmental and individual performance review processes.
Formalize the performance review process
At a minimum, every company should have a structured performance review process in place. This may sound obvious, but many small and mid-sized companies neglect to formalize this process and, as a result, it ends up falling through the cracks. Every employee’s performance should be formally reviewed at least annually. If there are performance problems, the schedule should move up to every month until the issues are satisfactorily addressed.
Staff development is not a frivolous use of time. The investment you make in your employees will pay dividends in improved employee engagement and overall operating performance.