Study after study confirms that best-in-class managers—those who consistently develop the most capable, flexible, and engaged teams that drive exceptional business results—share one quality: They make career development a priority.
Career development is about helping others to grow. It doesn’t occur through meticulous documentation but rather through the human act of conversation. Careers are developed one coaching conversation at a time, over time. Coaching is a deliberate process using focused conversations to create an environment for individual growth, purposeful action, and sustained improvement.
Unfortunately, these conversations do not occur as frequently as needed. What gets in the way of managers coaching their employees? The number one reason I hear as I work with leaders is a lack of time.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The best development conversations happen “in the moment” on a regular basis. For instance, a manager may meet with her employee once a month for 15 to 20 minutes for a targeted conversation instead of once a year during the performance appraisal conversation. There are benefits to this approach.
- Shorter conversations fit better with the cadence of business today.
- Frequent, ongoing dialogue communicates a genuine commitment to the employee and development.
- Iterative conversations allow employees to layer awareness, insights, and action more naturally.
- The ongoing nature of the conversation keeps development alive in everyone’s mind.
- These frequent exchanges sustain momentum, fuel progress, and act as ongoing reminder of the organization’s commitment to employee learning, growth, and progress.
Below is one possible approach to set up an annual rhythm for coaching “in the moment.”
- Meeting One: Facilitate a conversation that helps the employee think through where she has been, what she loves, and what she is good at. This conversation could include a discussion around skills, strengths, opportunity areas, values, interests, and preferences.
- Meeting Two: Facilitate a conversation that helps the employee take a big-picture look at the broader environment and the business in order to determine what’s changing and what those changes mean for her future career direction. This could include helping her to assess external challenges and changes (what’s going on in the world), identify internal challenges and changes (what’s going on within the organization), understand industry trends (by reading trade publications or participating in industry conferences), and engage in focused customer contact.
- Meeting Three: Based on the first two meetings, create an action plan for development. This could include educational opportunities; exposure to others who can teach, mentor, and coach; and experiences that will unlock opportunities to learn on the spot.
- Meetings Four through Twelve: Use your 15 to 20 minutes of coaching “in-the-moment” to ask the following questions:
- What was the best part of the month for you?
- What was the best part of the quarter for you?
- What did you find most satisfying?
- How often were you stretched and how did that feel?
- At what points did you find your energy and engagement lagging?
- What progress did you make against the specific goals we outlined?
- What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The approach to coaching “in the moment” does not offer managers a magic bullet for developing employees. It still requires making developing our employees a priority, and it calls for discipline around how we manage our time, priorities, and progress toward goals. But it does offer a realistic alternative for growing employees and increasing engagement.
How about giving it a try for 90 days? Even in that short time, chances are good you’ll start to see positive performance results that you can continue to build on throughout the rest of the year.
This post currently has no responses.