It's critical for every CIO to master people development in order to lead an engaged, effective IT team. Teaching and empowering your managers to develop members of their own teams is equally important to your organization.
You'll find tremendous personal satisfaction and reward in helping the members of your team develop themselves, becoming more valuable and boosting their productivity. The benefits of developing others are also beneficial in three tangible ways.
The first benefit, obviously, is to the person being developed. When we help people expand their skill set and knowledge base, we make them more valuable and more versatile. This in turn instills a sense of pride. Instilling pride in work and workmanship is a cornerstone of eliciting excellence. In addition, we demonstrate our belief in these people, their abilities, and their potential, which nurtures loyalty and responsiveness.
The second benefit of developing people is the effect it will have on your team. As each member of a team expands his or her abilities and stretches to reach new heights, others are inspired to do the same. The people you develop act as examples of what is possible for their colleagues. This motivates others to take the initiative to improve themselves for the betterment of their future and the benefit of the organization.
The third benefit is to the leader who is doing the development. As you master the art of developing people, your own communication skills improve. Your leadership effectiveness increases, and your productivity improves.
Where do you begin? What's the best way to develop someone? The key to effectively developing others lies in adopting a coach-like approach to leadership. This means embracing the power of asking rather than telling. Many of us, in an effort to help someone get it right (and in the name of expediency), tell others what to do and how to do it. This does get the work done, but it does little to develop that person's skill set or confidence.
Instead of starting off by telling people what to do, ask them what they would do and how they would do it. This serves three very important purposes:
- It demonstrates that you have an interest in what they have to say.
- It acts as a sign of respect, because it shows you value what they have to say.
- Their answers will reveal their insight, judgment, and problem-solving abilities, which provides clues as to how you can help them develop.
When you develop people this way, it creates the opportunity to mentor them, rather than simply training them. Training is good for technical matters and knowledge acquisition. If you want to develop people's judgment, you need to share your insights, improve their thought processes, help them understand alternate ways to approach problem solving, and basically give them the benefit of your experience.
As an executive, you can't personally develop each person in your organization. This is why you must rely on your managers and supervisors to do their parts.
My experience is that most of us aren't natural coaches. We require some coaching and guidance to become competent in this. As the leader of your department, it's up to you to set the example for others to follow. If coaching doesn't come naturally to you, take a course or work with those who have had training. They'll be able to give you guidance, insights, and strategies for effectively coaching others.
Once you're able to set the example, mentor your direct reports. Help them learn to coach and develop the people they lead. Look for missed coaching opportunities in their interactions with others, and help them improve their skills. Then encourage them to mentor the managers and supervisors who report to them. As more people are developed on your team, you'll find that turnover drops, quality improves, and productivity climbs.
By effectively developing others, you elevate everyone. As people grow and stretch, their value and their sense of pride expand, which in turn elicits excellence from them, the whole IT department, and the entire organization.
What experiences have you had with personal development within your organization? Share your stories and comments below.