CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills

Michael Beck, Executive Coach & Business Strategist | 12/4/2012 | 20 comments

Michael Beck
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.

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tjgkg   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   1/8/2013 4:06:02 PM
Re: Developing
@Michael Beck: Thank you for your comments. I will check out that book. I have always thought that it is important to treat people with the highest respect. It is too bad that ethos is not in vogue these days.
Michael Beck   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   1/8/2013 11:41:51 AM
Re: Developing
@tjgkg - I agree with your thoughts and observations (from your latest three comments).  Many people have a tendency to treat people like "things" rather than as people.

A good book to read which speaks to this is "Leadership and Self-Decption" by The Arbinger Institiute.
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tjgkg   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   1/5/2013 4:50:01 PM
Re: Developing
I'm thinking that anything that brings people together and helps get things done while developing their skills is a good thing. I don't think it is coddling to ask a person how he would approach a problem. I think it focusses their attention to the issue at hand and actually empowers them to make a decision. Sometimes if you do a little cultivating early, the flower will bloom sooner.
tjgkg   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   1/5/2013 4:44:02 PM
Re: Developing
@Michael Beck: And what is really sad about that is profits are through the roof-especially in tech companies. If you look at some of the public ones, the cash on hand in some of these companies is bigger than the GDP's of a number of mid sized countries. It is astonishing. And the cash sits there while so many people are out of work.
tjgkg   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   1/5/2013 4:37:11 PM
Re: Developing
@CMTucker: Yes nothing can replace human capability. It is too bad that employers have become so high handed in this economic environment that they treat workers like cattle. It is important to treat employees whether they are contractors or FT as valued and appreciated. It pays benefits in the long run.
Michael Beck   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   12/10/2012 4:33:34 PM
Re: CIO are IT coaches
@Pedro - Good observations.  Helping people grow not only helps them, but helps both the whole department and company as well.
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Pedro Gonzales   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   12/10/2012 11:44:31 AM
CIO are IT coaches
I think you are right, I really like the analogy of a coach. As a sports coach, you need to determine the abilityes of your players and before they go into a game, determine what skills they are lacking so they can be better prepare when the game happens.  This reflect in the same way with an IT team, if the team is better when the projects ocurred then they can respond to them better and enhance their performance.
Michael Beck   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   12/9/2012 4:21:32 PM
Re: Developing
@soozyg - Thanks, Soozy!  How the "coaching" is received depends upon how it's done.  Glad I reminded you of a good leadership experience! :-D
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soozyg   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   12/7/2012 11:18:21 PM
Re: Developing
My theoretical musings bow to your conclusions from personal experience.

And now that I think more about it, I think one boss I had did apparently use the coaching approach--at least with me. And I really enjoyed her leadership.
Michael Beck   CIO Success: Hone Your People Development Skills   12/7/2012 12:09:39 PM
Re: Developing
@Soozy - I don't see it at all like parenting.  I'm not admonishing them for anything.  A coaching approach helps someone grow and stretch.  It demonstrates that you value what they have to say.  It give s aleader insights into how someone thinks and their level of judgment.

It takes only a small amount of additional time to use a coaching approach than it does to be directive with them, and the benefits interms of loyalty and future productivity far outweigh the investment.

Anyway... that's how I see it and it reflects my personal experience with it as well.
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