As a Leader – you are on a professional Journey.
You deliberately separated from the pack such that others empower and trust you to lead, guide, direct and/or organize their activities.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to facilitate the development of your employees. You must foster, nurture and support each employee’s unique goals, dreams and aspirations.
This is not an idealistic or altruistic aspect of your job description. It is actually quite strategic! There are tangible business reasons to proactively support and nurture the Deliberate Journeys of employees. The joy and satisfaction you get in the process is a bonus!
Why Leaders Must be Great at Giving:
- The War for Talent – Research supports that attracting and retaining top talent is a huge strategic differentiator. People make (or break) your company. As a Leader, you must do your part to develop and retain A-players. In case you didn’t notice – A-players don’t stick around if they feel ignored, taken-advantage-of or stuck in a rut.
- The New Normal – gone are the days when employees start and end a career in the same company. Employees (including you and I) are more “self-serving” than the last generation. This is not necessarily “bad”, but does suggest they aren’t just ‘happy to have a job.’ They demand fulfillment, satisfaction, security and opportunity. They look to you, their boss, as the person who can help (or hinder) getting it. Neglect them or fall short of expectations and they’re gone.
- It’s How it Should be – I don’t know about you, but I want a boss who cares about me and my Journey. Show me you are invested in my goals/desires and I’m more apt to go the extra mile. Stories of organizational greatness often involve circumstances where a Leader has won the hearts and minds of his/her people. That is rarely a one-way street.
Have I sold you yet? Do you agree it is your job to support and nurture the Deliberate Journey of your employees? I hope so.
So let’s keep going – it is time to talk about “How” to do it.
3 Techniques to “Give” More:
- Conduct Stay Interviews – Many Leaders (or organizations) conduct exit interviews – these are candid debriefs with a departing employee to learn more about his/her experience and what led them to leave. How about conducting stay interviews instead? Talk candidly about what makes them “stay!” What are their goals, dreams, objectives or desires? Where do they see their career going? How can you help? What can you do to facilitate their growth?
- Become a Dream Manager – Matthew Kelly has an amazing book called The Dream Manager. Written as a parable, it shows the power of helping employee’s dreams come true. Do you know the personal or professional dreams of your employees? Do you know why they come to work every day – what type of a life/career they are building? If you do, have you discussed how you can help attain it? Try it – it is not only powerful but energizing!
- Create Career Paths – Can you tell me the next two career moves each of your employees desire? Do you know opportunities within your organization to facilitate movement? Are you committed to helping your employees move up and out of your area to bigger and better things? Have you build relationships within Human Resources to help you help them? Do you have a network to utilize in advancing each employee’s exposure within the company? These all help to create and advance their careers.
Giving is at the heart of leading. As busy as you are don’t neglect this accountability. Create the white space needed to connect, support, learn and facilitate. Whatever you give is returned in spades.
Take it Home: Schedule ‘Stay Interviews’ with each of your employees (one a week is fine if that’s all you can manage). Start the dialogue – learn his/her dreams and aspirations. Ask the questions. Join their Journey.