Careers Don’t Develop – People Do
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It’s funny how words are combined or concepts become conflated, giving birth to a new expression. We use it automatically without much thought. Until we wake up one day, reflect on its component parts with clear eyes, and realize that it no longer makes sense.
This is the case with ‘career development.’
For decades, employees, leaders and organizations have used the expression, career development, reflexively. Early on, it worked. .
But today, that career ladder in many organizations is all but dead. Downsizing. Outsourcing. Flatter structures. Baby Boomers staying at the party far longer than expected. The gig economy and other non-traditional working relationships.
The landscape has changed dramatically. Yet the expectation of ‘career development’ remains. And leaders inadvertently continue to reinforce these unrealistic expectations.
So, it’s time to wake up, and realize that careers don’t develop, people do. It’s time for leaders and employees to have honest conversations about what’s truly possible.
But in deconstructing the expression, we can’t lose ‘development.’ People represent an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage. When those people are allowed to learn, grow, and develop, organizations succeed and thrive.
Helping people grow and develop in today’s environment boils down to four key leadership priorities:
- Keep talking. Conversation is a powerful tool for understanding others, sharing information, and maintaining a vibrant, evolving relationship.
- Refocus people on what they want to do versus what they want to be. Linking development to positions is limiting; but a creative leader will help invite into someone’s current role elements of what they want to be doing – without changing jobs.
- Highlight learning. Help people pause long enough to reflect on knowledge, insights, and experience gained and to integrate it into their work. A simple question like, ‘What did you learn from that?’ helps others translate ordinary, mundane happenings into genuine development.
- Recognize growth. Development can feel microscopic and go unnoticed day-to-day. But the cumulative effects can be profound. Point it out. Highlight and celebrate progress. This creates an upward spiral of motivation to learn and grow more.
When you start putting words and concepts together, ‘people development’ is an expression that makes a lot more sense today than ‘career development.’
Julie Winkle Giulioni has spent the past 25 years working with organizations worldwide to improve performance through leadership and learning. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers, Julie is the co-author of the Amazon and Washington Post bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, a respected speaker on a variety of topics, and a regular contributor to many business publications.
I realize this was really about how leaders can help their people develop. I get that, and, as a leader, I want to do that.
But what kept coming to my mind were these two truths: 1) as an professional person (whether leader or follower), I must take personal responsibility for my own development, and 2) developing myself is not something that just magically happens–it requires work and effort on my part.
Michael, Great Point! You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. I think the key is making sure you are leading your horse to the water, and helping them to see the benefits of drinking. The horse still has to do the work.
I am grateful to mentors in my life to stretched me and invested to develop me in areas where I either a) could not see the importance or need to develop, or b) thought I was doing well (the same way my 3 year old thinks she is the best soccer player in the world!)
This is GREAT! As the Director of Career and Academic Advising at my college this article is on point. Students and staff members often inquire about their “next step” and what is often missing from the conversation are the key points you mention in this discussion. We often use career assessments to help navigate students/staff into a career path but this article highlights the need to also discuss the “personal” development that must also take place. From where I sit, so many people appear to expect a magic wand to come and “give” them a new job opportunity and they quite honestly haven’t done the real work of self improvement. Many employees are unwilling to work without pay to learn something new or to step out and shadow others in a field of interest. I am most impressed with the part of the article that discusses how a position doesn’t have to be changed in order for a person to begin to experience other career interests. Great article and great discussion. Thanks.
Great point, Michael! And it telegraphs a powerful message when leaders model a commitment to developing themselves. Here’s to finding a way to make that happen!
working in a medium sized engineering firm we have realized that the growth of our professionals as people is critical to everyone’s success. We wear lots of hats and you have to grow as a person rather than in a role. Thanks for the reinforcement.
What I love about this as a junior manager is that this is exactly what I want from my manager! Now I just need to remember to embrace these four concepts for my team as well. I agree with Michael that development is a personal responsibility but its not something that can easily be done alone. Sometimes you need the experience or feedback from others to help you to guide your own personal development.
I am excited to see this in your posts. I am an advocate for this approach, using it myself to further my own vocation by developing as an individual gave me more diversity and flexibility for vocational access. I have mentored others in the same way and have seen greater satisfaction in what they were doing as they were growing intellectually, exhibiting a broader scope of the horizon and being happier in whatever position they were in. I am excited to read this book.
Thank you, for your postings and service. Donna
Dan, as a baby boomer, I have come to realize it is the “cumulative effects” as Julie mentions. I see many younger workers who are under the impression that they can take a leadership course and instantly are looking for the promotion. I relate people development as adding tools to the toolbox. The same holds for leadership development. Your blog is helping me to add tools to my toolbox. Keep it coming!
Thanks for these comments, Andy. It’s true that for many, develop keeps getting moved to the back burner. But it’s precisely when organizations and lean and people are stretched to the limit that development is most helpful – for individuals and the business! Best of luck as you step back, reflect, and ‘help them grow’!
These sentences really hit home for me. “But in deconstructing the expression, we can’t lose ‘development.’ People represent an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage. When those people are allowed to learn, grow, and develop, organizations succeed and thrive.”
With a leaner, flatter organization that is constantly “putting out fires”, it is easy to lose site of the importance of developing people, helping them grow and focusing more on what to do as opposed the focusing on “titles” while waiting for what they want to be.
As a leader, I will definitely need to step back and reflect on what I am doing in this area.
Absolutely agree that it is people development. I challenged my team to make a concerted effort to learn something new every week, and share it with the team. As the late C.K Prahalad once said: “Some leaders are like a banyan tree. They don’t allow the sun in. Nothing grows under them.” As leaders, we are called to develop our teams.
Love the expression ‘banyan tree’! And clearly you’re not one. How great that your folks are challenged to learn and share weekly. Bravo!
Enjoyed this article. Would love to receive the book to learn more and share with my team!
Refocusing on what we want to do versus what they want to be is a gray matter stretcher for me. I look forward to reading the book and incorporating these points in my training.
Many years ago, I understood the need to get people to grow. Relaxed, controlled, multifaceted growth. It is very rewarding and a feather in my cap when they are ready and picked up for a new role. Most of the time they would’ve not stayed long enough at their current position without the encouragement and support to grow in place. Loosing the feeling of chasing the “carrot” will allow you to grow right where you are!
Your pride in developing others comes through loud and clear, Jorge. And it sounds like you were able to retain and make use of great talent longer than you would have without this effort. While the ‘carrot’ will likely hang around out there for some time to come, we will really help out people if we can encourage them to re-define career development and see what’s possible right where they are!
What an exceptional post. Thank you! This is what I’ve been trying to focus on, feeling like I have so many new things to learn regarding technology. What words of wisdom and encouragement. I am appreciative, and I really like your blog!
Lots of great tips! I always enjoy learning something from these posts.
Spot on! I researched Talent Management in the context of Digital transformation. My conclusion was that we cannot “manage Talent” but rather we have to “Enable People to develop”. Please reach out if you want to hear more about my “People enablement” model.
Brilliant…. that’s exactly the transition that’s required. And I’d love to learn more about your model. Thanks!
yes!!! I am in the management of training and DEVELOPMENT and that is where it lies! People development! Can’t wait to read 🙂
I appreciate this post about the importance of “people development” vs. “career development”. A specific degree was required to get the job at the level of leadership that I desired, however, the education required to get the degree has not been as beneficial to me in my role as the personal development opportunities that I have had the opportunity to participate in. Personal development has benefited me in my professional and personal life, giving me a greater appreciation for all that I have achieved. I share the message of the importance of personal development with my staff so they can achieve greater fulfillment in their own personal and professional lives as well.
I appreciate the empowering spirit of this blog and it’s focus on people development; that’s what is missing in organizations where employees are considered means to get to the bottomline.
I so agree.
“Ding”…a light just went off on my head. Great concept and oh so true. It is about people and investing in them. Will certainly give this thought and will keep talking, focus on what they WANT to do, highlight learning and recognize growth. Thanks so much, great article to start to day!
Love your energy around this, Mark! Best of luck as you help your people grow!
Help me to help grow the capacity of my staff. I’m always looking for new resources to support the development of our craft!
I agree that development is my personal responsibility, however, I also believe that it is the organization’s responsibility to provide some opportunities and support my development. I am the only person who knows my goals and it with my management.
Good point, Crystal! It’s absolutely a partnership with your manager and the organization. When you take ownership and help clarify your goals and even source possible growth opportunities, you make things all the easier for leaders to help make it happen. Best of luck to you.
The key to understanding Leadership in any role is “we only get out what we put in”, whether developing workers or oneself. Life is a full time learning commitment which changes by the second, you will never know everything and forget as much too!
Hats off to a great Blog!
“Our people are our greatest asset” say some, then I heard them say we need warm bodies in this city, and more warm bodies in that city. Yes, words matter!
“Take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, and that will take care of our future.” ~ WT Cassels
Great article! Working on a leadership class for pharmacy students and this is one of the key messages we are trying to impart – they must take responsibility for their development. Helping students and my employees develop and grow has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career!
Great reminder to constantly help people get closer to what they want to do by focusing on what they need to do to grow and seeing their job performance as a byproduct of that, not the only goal. Thanks!
Does this mean that cpd for teachers who have been teaching 3 or 4 years to encourage them to be middle leaders is perhaps flawed? If we allocate cpd to a length of time in career then individuals are not always ready or may not want this pressure. Some may be ready earlier too.
I love the concept of focusing people on what they do versus on what they want to be. In our rapidly changing world I think it is more important than ever to have a clear understanding of roles and how they can evolve in the changing workforce. With flattening of organizations, outsourcing, and artificial intelligence, it is imperative to continually evaluate how individuals can evolve; remaining both relevant and fulfilled. Developing people over careers is a key differentiator between those who thrive and those who merely exist in the workplace. Thank you!!
An altogether different post! It forces you to think more from career to people development.
People grow within any good organization with new learning and opportunities to try better things. They need the right encouragement and motivation to excel with innovation and experimentation. Bosses make or break career of their subordinates if they treat them adequately with a human touch.
A right good shift from Career to People Development can boost the morale among all staff members and can avoid unnecessary competition to get noticed for the next level of career promotion.
Thanks for reminding us that the responsibility for development is shared by the leader and those who are developing. Great post!
As a GM at a rather small country club, i have many responsibilities and often take on the role of other department heads. Many days I have been frustrated by other “leaders” in the organization having an attitude of “it’s not my job”. I have realized that not all people are willing to develop themselves – they truly think it is a positional thing. If they get this title or pay then they will do more. It actually works the other way around. Prove yourself and then you get it. Finding the employees who are eager and willing to grow is most valuable.
Well said, its rather heavy lifting when individuals you work are hesistant or just not willing to work together for whatever reason. The culture of the organisation is important. Every individual in an organisation is important no matter the task or job title
In my teaching of high school economics I stress this over and over. We must continually be developing our human capital. We must always be learning, developing and honing new skills. Careers are what you see in the rearview mirror, opportunity lies ahead.
This is the hardest lesson I had to learn as a leader. I assumed everyone was as hungry to learn, grow and develop themselves as I was myself. It took a mentor beating me over the head repeatedly to get me to see it.
Leaders are responsible for the care of those they lead. I have to remind myself of that each day, but each time I do it, I see the impact it makes for that person.
Thank you for the reminder!
Awesome! This has been my belief in life, not just the work place. It does take personal responsibility, in my experience when the people you are leading believe you are invested in their growth most tend to want that growth. It creates a learning, open, and safe culture for your team to play to strengths and acknowledge as well as strengthen the weaker areas.
We have been encouraging and teaching how to have conversations at our organization for just a short while but I see it as an extremely helpful tool.
We are looking at our development paths and it is a great reminder when we get into our task to remember it is about the people.
Fantastic perspective. We just completed an employee engagement and satisfaction survey via a third-party organization that specializes in this type of work. Results highlighted the need for career development. Since many organizations rely on these experts, we need to get them on board with this shift in thinking and word choice. I’ve got a bunch of employees who believe they need paid, classroom training to develop their careers, when they really need to change their mindset into one of learning and personal growth. Great article – thank you!
I found myself going, “You’re right! People develop.” I’d love to get the book and dive deeper.
We use the term career development a lot in organizations and even have plans on how to do it, focusing on a checklist of objectives to be accomplished instead of the true development of each person to be the best version of themselves for true significance and success. I’m glad that this article refocuses leadership on the greatest assests in the organization, which is the amazing talented people they work with everyday. When we develop our strengths amazing things heppen for everyone.
Great post ! In our organization, 35% of the workforce are eligible to retire within the next five years. Like many other municipalities, we did not invest properly in them or their successors and now we face a succession event that may impact our future. Intellectual capital will walk out the door and not be readily replaced. Recently we started “Position Development” but that does not inherently translate into new leaders – just people to fill positions and roles. Focusing development efforts on Positions limit most organizations because we focus on replicating the job function and not releasing the capacity of our people.
What a timely post. We are having mid-year evaluation conversations right now and I would like to incorporate this theme into the discussions to help frame the discussion to something bigger than this year.
It all begins with the conversation and we see over and over how difficult this has become in our organization. The tendency is we have a safe and open environment with people at the forefront. Yet at times this is much more perception than reality.
Terrific timing on this article. We are in the middle of mid-year evaluations and I wanted to incorporate a longer term point of view into the conversation to help my team develop perspective and think about the future.
Great in getting the emphasis back to where it needs to be . . . PEOPLE. While individuals may fill specific positions or rolls . . . it’s about PEOPLE and their development. Thanks for tweaking the perspective and getting it back to where we all need to think.
Good post! It’s helpful to keep in mind what we can control versus what we cannot control as we develop the people on our teams.
Great topic, this is one I could really use help improving in!
I needed this topic today! “Refocus people on what they want to do” has been my goal for the last three weeks. I have questioned my approach, but this article has shed some light on empowering others to see they can grow in their current position which add value to the team. Thank you for putting power behind the purpose!
I look at it (from the employee side) that my development is in my hands. I will look to my leaders to support my efforts (where they make sense).
Here is where I’ll stretch it a bit further.
I support people development to the point that they are more than qualified to get other jobs.
Provide the other items (purpose, measurement, relevance, recognition, trust, etc.) around their current jobs so they don’t want to leave.
Some will leave.
We love saying that change is the new norm, etc.
Imagine the comfort you will feel when you know you have the skills to go get another job if things “change too much”, but you are treated in ways that make you stay because you want to stay. Most people will choose to stay in their “comfortable” situation.
We all have the ability to choose to leave at any time.
Are you staying because your trapped?
or because you choose to stay?
It is about the people. Treat them like people. Give them the control of their life.
Great post. It is helpful to remind us that People are to be our focus.
The lengths to which we’ll go to remove the human element from a situation is remarkable.
When the goals are maximising “talent” and managing “resources”, we’re actively making a system that discourages people from taking steps to develop themselves. No wonder that “often ’20 years experience’ is actually ‘1 year’s experience, 20 times'”.
Any guidance on how to overcome that thinking habit, and have conversations that reignite that spark of improvement in people has to be of primary interest to those wanting to lead effectively
As a “seasoned” I’ve come to realize the each of the generations view a career differently. Our approach to develop them has to be from where they are not from our view of a career.
Yes! A guide on having those difficult conversations about growth and development. This is an area we can all use guidance with!
I couldn’t agree more! Encouragingly, many employees are wanting to have conversations (and easy answers) with their supervisors about how to “grow”, but don’t really know what that means within their company. And supervisors very often don’t know how to address their employees’ concerns, since they don’t have an easy answer for them. The first step, as mentioned here, is to have a conversation, and then ongoing conversations about what they want to do, accompanied by ideas for development in place.
The employees that are constantly learning and striving to know more about their employer and their industry, those are the rock stars that are invaluable to their employer. Those are the employees that get promoted and praised.
The magic happens when you convince the bare minimum employee to strive for greatness and knowledge!
Well said. We are starting to focus more on experiences (learning opportunities) in creating development opportunities and matching those with what folks have included in their development plans (Yes, you own your own development.)
This is really great info! Understanding that day by day development can sometimes go unnoticed and figuring out how to recognize and celebrate it would go a long way with a lot of our employees!
This from the article:
“Highlight learning. Help people pause long enough to reflect on knowledge, insights, and experience gained and to integrate it into their work. A simple question like, ‘What did you learn from that?’ helps others translate ordinary, mundane happenings into genuine development.”
This is my greatest struggle as someone who owns the learning and development strategy for my business unit. You want to build this time into their learning while fighting off the “what’s next” so they can actually develop rather than gather information. Looks like a good book to pick up.
Love these 4 key concepts to help people maximize their potential and grow. Want to see people ever loving, ever learning and grow to fulfill their potential… This means I have to keep growing to do the same.
This is spot on! On a personal level, I relate with the statement regarding focusing on what people want to do and not what they want to be. It is important to have a personal vision statement, and allow your team members to create their personal vision statements. We need to work towards our vision, adjusting as we go along. We, also, need to assist and encourage each other to bring vision to reality.
Great points but the struggle for me is how to get someone to recognize that the title of the position isn’t the important part – it’s the work and contributory value of their work that matters to leadership and to our customers. Our group is comprised of folks that are either my age or older – and they are anchored to a title and to the square footage of their work space. Thank you for the encouragement in your words – I hope to use this information to help me help them.
Developing people … building relationships … grow where planted … progress not perfection.
Just yesterday the daily message from Darren Hardy was about keeping a journal about “One thing I learned today.” By writing one item a day, over time we can reflect upon our growth. As a leader I find my role is one of encouragement to my team members to see how they can grow within their current situation and be influential without moving too soon. They affect the bottom line of our company, influence those around them and have a spirit of accomplishment too.
Hour book reflects how we approach our team. I look forward to reading it.
I realize my importance and role as a leader to develop other leaders, however a real leader needs to have the self motivation to lead himself. I can show him the map and the best route to take, but only will he she will stay on the path and not get detoured.
I look forward to Leadership Freak every day and encourage others to read it and learn from it. We need leaders in every part of society. Thank you for your expertise!
I agree it is important to lead yourself as a leader. I also believe that people leave a position most often because of the relationship with their manager. As a leader, it is important to challenge and support people in their ongoing development.
This is a very well thought out and provocative challenge to the status quo on helping employees grow and adapt.
In a position of needing to find room to personally and professionally grow – due to the work force status (lack of available upward positions), the inattention to ‘team’ may mean that it’s not the employee who suffers, but the organization that does from team members who do ‘nothing’ or – even worse – team members who sabotage the work. . . . and then, how critical is the ‘let’s grow’ attitude? This is a great lesson – a wise insight – and so TRUE.
Thanks for the post. I like shifting the conversation from Developing Careers to Developing People!
Love the idea of “people development” as opposed to “career development”. This makes so much sense. As people develop, they gain more skills which, logically, could lead to job changes and new opportunities. As an instructional coach, developing people seems like a far less daunting task than developing careers, in my opinion.
Who I am determines what I do. What I do does not determine who I am. In working with young people over the years I have found that they have lots of information at there finger tips but lack experiences the link the two. When they have both it creates the context for mature conversation to occur. I feel very strongly that we need to understand what our individual Core Values are, what our gifts and talents are, and then learn what it means to steward what has been entrusted to you on a daily basis utilizing those values, gifts and talents. It is not about rank, position or power.It is about influence. I find those who are life long learners desire to keep moving and growing. Just some random thoughts!
This idea really resonates with me. In small to mid-sized companies, opportunities for movement in terms of official positions can be limited but that shouldn’t limit our ability to help team members to grow, learn and develop, providing personal fulfillment and preparation to take the next step when possible.
“Refocus people on what they want to do versus what they want to be. Linking development to positions is limiting; but a creative leader will help invite into someone’s current role elements of what they want to be doing – without changing jobs.”
Great post! Thanks for sharing.
If you work for an organization that has little career development opportunities, then it makes sense to develop people and give them the opportunity to move onto another organization to further their career aspirations. When your people know you are investing in them, they in turn give back ten fold.While you may not hold onto them forever, it’s better than not investing in people and they stay, risking a poor attitude and poor work ethic due to lack of opportunities Exceptional leaders always invest in their people.
What really stood out to me is the idea of refocusing people on what they want to do vs. what they want to be. We tend to think in silos when it comes to our careers. As a “ladder climber”, I often notice the experience of executives because that is ultimately where I want to be. They have a wide variety of experiences in finance, operations, risk management, HR, etc. If companies want to retain A-team talent they need to think outside the box or employees will pursue opportunities elsewhere. Great article!
“Career Development” is now on my list of classic oxymorons. Thanks for the enlightenment!
Your words are so relevant to current trends in Career Technical Education where we are sharpening our focus on developing students’ interests through work-based learning experiences. Young professionals should realize their leadership potential and how it will impact their success in the workforce.
I think this article is a pleasant overdue surprise and the concepts are practical and balanced given the constructs of different organizations today, budgets, baby-boomers, etc… Trying to find ways to support employees doesn’t need to be difficult, I find the four steps practical and achievable and see positive outcomes for the individual, leader and organization.
I often hear the excuse that we have high turnover because we’re developing people so well for other jobs. How do you respond to that? And how do you build accountability into an organization where the financial cost of turnover isn’t talked about?
Benchmark it … and take it right off the bottom line. It is a HUGE number when it appropriately measured, especially in high turnover cultures with highly paid “high performers.”
I am currently a new office manager and engagement with the millennials seems to be a task that I was not prepared for. I am trying to empower my staff by asking them to let go of their ego and get out of their own way as many of them listen to respond. It has been a learning opportunity I am still trying to navigate. I was to be a leader not just a manager.
I’ve been in leadership for many years, and am still surprised at the gap between leaders and those they try to lead. Your blog does an amazing job combatting this – distilling actions down into key approaches – more conversations between the two to develop stronger relationships. Each side makes way too many assumptions about what the other side wants, knows, feels, understands. A phrase my people continue to hear is “how do we remove the line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and become ‘we’?” It sounds like this book is focused on personalizing the approach for leaders and those they mentor to work together in developing potential. Brings to mind a favorite quote from Agha Hasan Abedi – “The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”
Thanks for all the great work you do Dan, your efforts to support and help us leaders grow is appreciated!
This is so true!. Working in local government getting folks to realize that traditional organizational hierarchy limits our effectiveness and the ability to grow others is frustrating at best and debilitating at worst. To make the needed change requires courage to accept the risk that service delivery may be affected while we institute a new way of thinking. Many leaders in the organization are neither millennial nor boomer. We are stuck in the middle either getting pulled apart or squashed as we try to navigate this challenging time.
it is definitely about people development, I think that as we talk and listen it is important to share that these leadership are transferable to different positions.
Very good. We say regularly “Words are Important”. This is a great example of that very thing.
My challenge is employees who understand the concept of People Development and still believe that it attached, without exception to the resulting Position Advancement. In these cases that title on the badge is the carrot.
It will take conversation and reasonable expectations from both to unlearn Career Development and re-learn People Development.
As always, Thanks Dan.
I would add that not only is the proverbial “career ladder” gone, but titles don’t always match what the job exactly entails. So, this is RIGHT ON THE MARK! I’d rather talk about what I love to do than what I’d love to be (although, I get sometimes the two collide). Thanks!
This is something that has been on my mind recently. There is not always an opportunity for everyone to move up the ladder especially in smaller teams. I do focus on elevating my team members as individuals, and I try to find a way to bring their unique passions into their positions. Sometimes you have to get creative to keep your good people happy.
Refocus people on what they want to do versus what they want to be. This is one of the best development lines I have heard. It is so true that placing the focus on what the individual wants to do instead of the job title will help them find greater happiness in both work and life, and also help them to be even more successful as they continue to grow. Thank you for this insight!!!
I love this statement… “A simple question like, ‘What did you learn from that?’ helps others translate ordinary, mundane happenings into genuine development.” I’m constantly challenging my staff by asking that same question! Whether we have a catastrophe or a fantastic experience, I want them to make it a lifestyle of learning from each type of encounter!
In the past I’ve also asked them to sit down at the end of the year and comprise a list entitled, “The Biggest and Best Lessons I Learned This Year.” It’s amazing what they will put on their list, and how writing it down and sharing it with others, as well as getting feedback as they share, solidifies the lessons they have learned!
I have been having some great discussions with our management team regarding the difference between performance management and performance development. Staff have professional goals not to just be managed. Once we start listening to what’s important to them its amazing how a culture of growth takes hold!
“Grow or stay” have long been the only options … and to grow (and learn) has long meant that you had to go (after a certain point).
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been recruited to “go” by having conversations and trading insights (with principals, not recruiters or HR) thru networking – and not to “stay” thru tautological internal “strategic planning” exercises.
Your advice to leaders looking to benefit from their investments in their own people is spot-on.
Love the blog a lot of insightful tools to use in our everyday work. Thanks.
I’m a manager in a technical call center and we hope for a 3-5 year investment from our people. We understand the need to develop and grow our staff. We know that eventually they will leave us but we hope they will know that they were respected here and will think of their time with us fondly. Great advice!
Julie, thank for for the interesting and provocative post. The irony of your post is that focusing on developing people almost certainly results in higher levels of engagement and loyalty that career development ever could. Rather than sacrificing souls and dreams for the “company store’ via career development, developing people advances personal and professional growth in ways that benefit the company with enthused, involved, and proactive contributors. It seems that a key challenge to developing people is moving them to the point where they focus on what they want to do rather than what they want to be. Our culture tends to generate goals and aspirations for people, regardless of their interests, passions, or abilities. An astute leader will help people break through externally imposed goals to discover what they really do want to do.
Refocus people on what they want to do versus what they want to be. – watching this in action as my daughter finally has a manger who recognizes how to motivate the younger generation. He also focuses on learning which has given her an excitement at work. A complete change form the previous “you haven’t been here long enough to do that” attitude of the former manager. Her mentor follows the same growth process for all her protogees. It’s exciting to see them respond to the challenge of what do you want to do and what can you/have you learned from this.
Stagnation leads to exodus, while learning and growing leads to productivity and growth.
People development is so critical to turn the conversation on careers to action!
This is an extremely important topic that many companies are ignoring these days. It has become more about the “bottom line” and less about the employee for years now. Our company used to promote from within and run education/development meetings weekly; that doesn’t seem to happen all that often now. I would love to get a copy of this book to read and donate to our corporate library.
With many organizations eliminating middle management, the traditional career path is no longer available. Creativity is needed to train and develop people to become tomorrow’s leaders. Excellent post!
This made my day for its timeliness. We’re embarking on conversations with all of our management teams about how to change the conversations they need to have with employees about career expectations. Good position management means we have to break the cycle of trying to keep “good employees” with a promotion. I love “refocus people on what they want to do versus what they want to be.”
This is interesting. I am a director and want to change the work atmosphere and properly place people where they enjoy and produce rather than what they think they should do and not enjoy. I love the term “people development.”
It’s great to read about forward thinking for leaders in how to assist their people to really grow in this changing work space. Staff want to be engaged, learn, interested, making a difference, and developing skills is a huge part of that. I’ve always thought that personal development is my responsibility but it has only really worked well when my leaders and mentors have been there to add inspiration, courage, ideas, pathways etc. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it as I couldn’t have imagined where I was going to end up! Thanks for the article.
It’s amazing how you can overlook the obvious for years. Thanks for the paradigm shift. I have known intuitively that I need to focus on personal development, but never really thought about the impact business trends have had on “career” development. With the increased likelihood that career development will take you through multiple companies, it really is all about continuing to develop the individual.
I agree with the fact that employees must develop themselves and take the initiative, but I also feel as though management needs to create or identify opportunities for growth as well. Employees must not feel as if they are in a box and cannot reach out to other departments to learn and grow. If the employee takes the initiative to come up with an idea, management must embrace that idea and have the employee pursue it or research it. I recently had a friend who left the company due to “no growth opportunities” when it came to the corporate ladder. His managers were young, were not going to be retiring anytime soon. He then sought out a different department, interviewed and did not get the job. He then felt deflated and thought there were no more growth opportunities with the company and left. He had been frustrated with his growth for about a year. He did take the initiative, however his manager did not catch the frustration quick enough to maybe come up with a creative solution for his current role. Maybe they could have added more responsibility and learning opportunities to his role? Maybe he would not have left? Hard to tell, but still creative solutions in that case I think would have helped!
Interesting summary of a very complicated, yet vital, aspect of the life we lead. As a high school educator, recommending the “life long learning” approach to vocation comes very naturally to me. Yet, for certain seasons or phases of life it’s can be difficult to identify what we have actually learned! Journaling or recording periodic reflections become very usefully for hindsight.
This message hit home both professionally and personally.
I am on the continuing path of personal development and I learned a long time ago that this path is better when it is self-directed and introspective. This allows me to be proactive rather than reactive. It has helped me to get ahead of the curve.
I have noticed that few seem willing to make the personal investment in discipline and responsibility that is necessary to build from who they are to who they want to be.
This article inspires me to build a more formal platform into my agents development plans that will allow for more personal growth in addition to their professional growth.
I think I have always known that personal growth will multiply the effectiveness of professional growth, but I had not yet stepped up and tried to take responsibility for encouraging others to develop personally in the areas where they see the need.
I will rectify this immediately.
Shifting the development culture away from the career/job focus and to the personal skill set focus coincides with the fluidity of the current working world environment. This strategy, while seen by some as a nod towards working more effectively with millenials, is useful for all as it is underscoring the theme of transferability of skills. As we leaders help grow and develop the future leaders, the best lesson we can show is that we are all best as life-long learners.
I want to grow in the area of leadership. I need more knowledge and wisdom from leadership expert. I am dedicates to personal development and I believe your book can help me a lot.
I have found that there are different approaches for different staff members. It’s easy to say you have a skill set that is great for the masses, yet I have found there are a few exceptions on my team. For instance, Millennial’s are more about gratification with constant recognition whereas the older generations are accepting of recognition during their quarterly reviews. I want to keep the staff I have and mold and grow them yet, I know there are people that no matter the management style will think they will find better elsewhere.
This will help people to understand their leadership skills and they will work accordingly
the problem is that leaders are afraid of competition and their jobs. Companies boards and shareholders focus on dividends and shot term goals.The leader are incapable thinking outside the box and ultimately they are all falling to financiallly commit something unless it is self-serving .We have been trying to make leaders think outside the box and even raised funds to limit the risk of massive failure but any leader. But they are stuck in their own world. Last but not least Leaders are inaccessible and can hardly be reached foreign what is really going on in the world relying on their staff en the new on their mobiles.