In my leadership development work I meet some amazing leaders all across the country. One of the executives in a recent program on Leadership Excellence validated my principles by expressing that there is more to excellence than setting high standards and achieving operational results. “Along with operational excellence, you have to have people excellence,” she explained. She makes it a practice to stay in touch with her team. It’s about caring about your people, but not just caring that they are healthy and are getting enough rest. It’s also caring that they are developing, growing, and finding fulfillment in their work.
Once a month she meets with each member of her team for half an hour. Here is what is on the agenda:
- She asks how their life is at work and away from work.
- She asks how their career is progressing.
- She asks for feedback about how supported they are feeling by her.
- Then she asks what kind of development or learning project they are involved in that is rewarding and gratifying to them. This last piece often requires some coaching on her part to assist them in finding a fulfilling project.
She spoke of one of her IT managers who is involved in a software project that she is deeply passionate about. Apparently it takes up about ten percent of her time. It is not directly impacting or contributing to her job requirements short term, but it is extremely rewarding to her and will help her be a better IT manager long term. It’s an area where she can become an internal expert and coach and mentor others in the future.
It’s risky to offer this to the people that you serve. In order to build a strong organizational culture, you have to be willing to sometimes let your best people leave for work in other areas in order to help them grow. They may even develop themselves and leave the organization. But this kind investment in people will always have a good long-term return. The best people will want to work for you, and you’ll get the best out of those who do.
What are you doing to develop and grow the people you serve?