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Dear Workforce What Are Practical Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

Dear Willing but Not Able:

First, congratulations on your focus on development. A focus on talent management and employee development is important not only in ensuring your own career success, but also in getting the most value from your employees.

As expected, there is no one way to develop others or to build your own development skills. However, there are a few key actions you can take to improve in this area:

  • Know your company’s career development philosophy and resources. Different organizations have different expectations of the employee role in career development processes, and many have volumes of resources that go unused. Be certain that you understand what is expected of you and know what is available to you.
  • Have a plan. You and your employees should have a documented plan that articulates concrete steps for developing yourselves based on individual goals, strengths and weaknesses. Having a plan and continuing to polish it according to what works and what doesn’t is a great way to hone your development skills.
  • Balance means of development. Once you have a plan and goals in place, it is important to ensure that there are multiple means of reaching these goals. An important strategy is to have a balanced set of actions related to development, from formal training and on-the-job experience to feedback opportunities.
  • Find a mentor/coach. The best way to learn how to develop is from others who have done it successfully. Identify people in your organization who are good at developing others. Take them to lunch or ask them to be a mentor or coach for building your own skills in this area.
  • Use your network. Don’t forget outside organizations to which you belong. Many offer career development opportunities such as training, networking and coaching for their members. These are also great places to find mentors.

Most important, however, you must take ownership for your own development and encourage your employees to do the same. This will ensure that you are prepared to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, and adapt quickly as circumstances change.

One last piece of advice: Remember that solid day-to-day performance is often the threshold criterion for advancement. Most companies today focus on rewarding top performers, and so it is these select few who get many of the development opportunities and, eventually, the new jobs.

All of these strategies should be combined to help you and your employees achieve your development goals. Career advancement and employee growth require being prepared when opportunities arise, so always stay focused on development.

SOURCE: Brian Wilkerson, Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Washington, September 17, 2008

LEARN MORE: Experts say having a long-term talent strategy will help companies survive an economic reversal.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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