Develop to be Developed

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own careers we forget about the people who work with us.  They too have career goals and ambitions.  However, we don’t always take the time to listen and figure out what their aspirations are.  I found out the hard way.

It was time for my annual review and I was feeling pretty good about it.  I had one of the best operations in the district and half expected the red carpet to be rolled out for me. That was not the case!  The review started out as I had expected. I was thanked for my performance throughout the year and congratulated for my team’s top performance. Then lightning struck. My manager asked me if my people were ready to take my place.  He asked me if I would recommend anyone of my people to step in and do what I currently do.

To those who manage employees, this answer should come instinctively. I drew an immediately blank. I realized that I lost focus of my people and their development. My attention centered around achieving results so much so that I lost touch of the people who helped me reach those goals.  It was a necessary but embarrassing moment. This was my mangers way of telling me what I was lacking, development.

I needed to be more proactive in my employees’ development. My manager was right. My employees were uncertain about the direction of their career and where their future lies in the organization. After hearing this, I knew that I had really failed.

I encourage you not to make the same mistake.  Take a moment to set aside time with your employees and ask them about their goals.  Use this information to help them develop in their areas of interest.  Be as proactive about their career as you are about yours.  Make their development a priority and schedule regular meetings to accomplish this.  Don’t differentiate their development from yours, they are one in the same.


About Bert Somsinsawasdi

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4 Responses to Develop to be Developed

  1. Thanks for such an honest article, Bert. I really agree with you in that it’s so easy to get caught up with results and numbers that it becomes easy to forget about taking the time to develop your employees and find out where they’re at and where they want to go. For me, it’s also about succession planning, which is something I know my organization currently lacks. We must continue to think about the future as we develop and we develop our employees to ensure that there’s always someone to step in when someone decides to move on to another opportunity. I think having this plan in place makes it easier to develop our employees so that we never find ourselves saying, “So and so can’t leave because our team will be hosed,” but rather we can feel good about encouraging them to grow into a higher role.

    • Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments. Succession planning is correct! Your future and the future of your employees are closely aligned. The faster we can grasp that the better. Thanks again Melissa.


  2. Bert,
    You have learned a valuable lesson early on in your career. Kudos to your evaluator for bringing this minor flaw to your attention and kudos for you for accepting the honest feedback.

    You are on the right track to ask your employees what goals they have for themselves. I have found it very useful to regularly chat with my employees. At least twice a year these chats are scheduled. I also make it a point to have one-on-one unscheduled time with every employee at least once a month. In each instance the employee has my undivided attention, no phones, no interruptions, no computers and no one else present. The chats are very unstructured and the direction of the casual conversation is guided by the employee; they talk I listen. I usually start the conversation with an open ended casual question that gets them talking. My job then turns to actively listening and asking a clarifying question here and there. I have learned so much about the organization and have received some pretty amazing feedback and suggestions for improvement and it almost always leads to the employee either directly or indirectly discussing his goals. It is a win/win/win situation for the organization, the employee and me.

    Best of luck to you!

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