Employee Development – A CEO’s Most Critical Function

It’s time to throw away all your multi-page evaluation forms that you hide behind to convince yourself that you are developing your team. Look, there is a place for theory when we address the “people issues” that come with the job of a leader. However, you can’t let the theory and the process of completing forms take a priority over what the end result needs to be.

Now for those of you who need a reminder, the end result is the improved performance of your organization as a result of the performance of your team. Your HR person may counsel you on the importance of completing the proper forms. Ignore them. The forms have a place, but far too many HR folks consider the completed forms the goal. They are wrong.

It’s time to get practical and produce the results that you and your team want and your company needs. You’re the CEO; that’s what you’re supposed to do – get the right results! If your HR professional agrees with you, you’ve got the right one.

Consider this fact as the basis of all of your actions – unless you focus strategically and tactically on how you select, develop, utilize and measure your team, your organization will never grow to its real value. In fact, without paying attention to these four factors, your business will probably not survive.

In the past, I’ve written about how to maximize your success when hiring and selecting new employees. Today, let’s spend some time on the development of your teams. Take a look at this simple graphic of a stool and how it can help you develop your team into a competitive advantage for your company.

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The top of the stool represents the “desired outcome” you want to achieve in terms of the change in behavior (performance) of a particular employee. Start with the end in mind and work backwards to the tactics or steps you need to take to get there.

Going from left to right, the first leg of the stool stands for giving the team member the opportunity to learn a new skill – easy to do, right? Be sure they are learning a new skill that helps them either do their current job better or take on additional duties.

The next leg (the one in the middle) is simple but critical for success – once the individual has learned the new skill, make sure they use it as intended. Now some of you are thinking, who wouldn’t do that? The answer is – many of you asking that question! How many times do you let the pressures of the daily grind put “on hold” someone using their new knowledge?

Finally, the third and last leg is probably the most important one. If you correctly addressed the first two legs of the stool then in order to achieve the “desired outcome” you must take the time to give the individual constructive feedback on how they are doing until they no longer need it. This last leg ties it all together. Yet many of you find it difficult to find the time to do this. And, when you don’t and the individual fails to meet your expectations, you blame the employee or the trainer or both. Yet, the failure rests squarely on your shoulders.

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By themselves, none of the three legs can support the stool – i.e. achieve the desired outcome. The three legs must stand together to make sure the right change in behavior is achieved.

Your goal as the CEO is to build a successful and viable organization. To do that, you need the right people. After selection, employee development must be your area of focus. Without a proper development strategy in place, there is no way you can successfully utilize your team or measure their performance and contribution.

It’s pretty simple when you take the time to think about it, right? Yet, not all of you do.

Guest post courtesy of Chris Ruisi.

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