For entrepreneurs, their most critical investment is in their people. One of the best ways to increase the value of your organizations is to invest time in employee development. But how do you do this when you have so many other things that require your time? I find the best organizations invest time and money in their team members. I’ve helped develop coaching and mentoring plans for many clients over the years. I thought it might be helpful to show you the employee development process I share with my best clients.
The first phase in the employee development process is assessment. I use a number of testing instruments to help me speed up the assessment process. Using a standard assessment process allows your whole team to develop a shared language and culture for the results you are hoping to achieve. You’re investing significant money, time, and resources on your team members; you need to know what they do best and how they see their role in your organization. This assessment phase is the critical foundation for the rest of the action planning process. It can provide you and your organization an opportunity to uncover hidden assets and strengths quickly and cost effectively.
The second phase in the employee development process is setting priorities. Every leader I’ve ever worked with has too many priorities for the time available in their day. When working with a new employee or someone new on your team, it is critical to help them define their priorities. They should map directly to your business strategy and results. When working with different people on your team, try to align these priorities based on their role in the organization. These priorities change over time. Your role is to help your team members understand not only what you expect, but why. Give them the freedom to create their own priorities, but you should still hold them accountable to the results you expect.
The third phase in the employee development process is taking action. If you want to do planning for planning’s sake you will struggle as a small and mid-market business leader. Taking action on your organization’s priorities is critical to your team’s success. Action is what sets the entrepreneur apart from the small business owner. Entrepreneurs tend to focus on action and getting things done while many small business owners continue planning even after the opportunities have passed them by. These plans should be designed to have the employee take positive action, as soon as possible. These actions should be based on the individual’s strengths and life experiences. Take time to match the individuals’ strengths with their priorities and you create better, faster results than you are currently getting. It’s much easier for your team members to win when they know they are good at what they are trying to achieve. Taking action is the only way you can determine if your plans are working and how to improve your business processes.
The fourth phase in the employee development process is debriefing the person taking action. When working with first responders and military people, I learned the faster you can get team members debriefed, the better the information that leads to improvements. We use a Socratic method of collecting feedback. We ask our team members to tell us two things they did well and then, after listening to their responses, I ask for one thing they thought they could do better. I then give them a positive strategy to help them get the results we need. I stay positive throughout the feedback and coaching process. High performing people are much tougher on themselves than we can be. This is not to say we should be easy. Since I may be dealing with life and death issues, I want to make sure they get better, today. Real time debriefing and coaching allows my clients to do this better. Good managers and leaders learn how to help the teams grow and develop in real time. This allows them to leverage everyone’s efforts to grow the value of the organization.
This leads back to the beginning of the process. We just repeat the employee development process looking for places to continue improving the process and the results. I hope this helps you develop action plans with your team members. I’m sure if you work through this simple four step process, you will be getting the results you want before you know it.