Want To Develop Talent? Get Out Of The Way!
In the battle for talent, many leaders look externally for getting talent that aligns with the goals (at the least) and the culture (at best).
Unfortunately, according to employee surveys, many leave because leadership has failed to recognize the talent they possess and opt to take their skills elsewhere where they are appreciated.
In fact, a study from 15Five shows that of the top ten reasons employees leave, seven are attributable to poor leadership that hampers development and recognition of an employees efforts and talent.
Among those factors, the reasons that talent doesn’t develop is that leaders get in the way more than anything else. Here are the common reasons a leader may be hindering their peoples’ ability to develop:
Micromanagement. Whether from the basis of perfectionism or not knowing how to properly develop people to the next level of performance, micromanaging always create diminishing returns among employees. They start to spend more time covering their tracks than actually developing and excelling at their jobs. A visionary leader will allow their people room to showcase their talents rather than box them in to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”.
Unrealistic Workload. Expecting your people to do more with less, whether due to budget cuts or an old-school leadership mindset that the best employees persevere at all costs, employees will struggle to get the basic core job done and not be refreshed or energized to innovate to develop. Allowing some pressure is good, piling it on to “bring out the best” in people ultimately leads to a negative ROI as employees will opt for a more balanced work environment.
Lack of Recognition. Even with the best efforts, failure to recognize on a nominal and consistent basis will ultimate lead to a departure of talent from your organization. Regardless of “that’s what you pay them for”, the consistent public, and private, appreciation of your team can inspire them to show off their talents at another level. Knowing and acting on this very basic human need can go an incredibly long way to develop your people and create a desire to please their boss.
Withholding Time & Resources. The discrepancy of training budgets between executive leaders and front line employees is quite large. More funds are spent on leadership workshops, retreats and conferences while the front line staff are tasked with making the widgets or sales without a break to develop their careers. Think about how talent could develop in your organization if a year’s worth (or more) of the training budget went to front line staff and not to leadership; the results could be transformational. Kevin Eikenberry alludes to this when he wrote that “Leadership Development is Self-Development” as many leaders can continue to grow those skills on their own without formal training and the resources that are tied up as a result. A great leader spends the needed resources, and time, to ensure their people grow.
Tolerating Toxic Culture. Poor culture that allows favoritism, bullying, broken promises and hypocrisy is a sure way to create an exodus of talent from your organization. In an era where employees have more leverage to move and leave a toxic culture and boss behind, it becomes an imperative mission to correct culture if your are to attract and retain talent. By removing the culture barriers that repel employees, an astute leader will gut their culture to ensure it aligns with those behaviors that attract talent that is already incumbent to the company. One bad apple is not worth keeping if it spoils the bunch, no matter how high level that person is, or how good a performer they are.
Think Inclusively. If your organization and leadership fails to consider the inherit worth of women, people of color and varying cultural, educational and economic backgrounds, chances are their skills will seek a more inclusive workplace that give them a chance to showcase their abilities. Adding to that are people who have dissenting opinions, beliefs and philosophies that may not fit into traditional, outdated modes of thinking. An inclusive-minded leader – in practice, not in theory – knows they have an incredible amount of talent in those groups that need a voice and stage to shine. Allowing them to be part of the change and mission can be perhaps the most gratifying talent initiative you’ll ever undertake.
As Julie Winkle Giulioni explained in a post for SmartBrief, leaders often err by commission of missteps, omission to do the right thing, and “whoa-mission” of holding back on the reins too tightly.
Great leaders and talent developers, will simultaneously remove those things that hinder talent, implement those that develop it, and let go of their staff to allow them to do what they know needs to be done. The results, both in metrics and in development, just might astonish you.