I’ve mentioned several times that I believe a manager’s primary job is to hire and train their replacement. Managers shouldn’t be threatened by this because it’s not something that happens right away. Developing talent takes time.
For example, let’s say the CEO comes into your office this afternoon and says, “I want to put together a team to work on our next big product. It’s a super-secret project, but I want our best performers. Give me a list of names to consider ASAP!” At first glance, you’re thinking, “No problem. We have plenty of great performers.”
But then reality sets in. If your managers haven’t been out there developing their talent, then they don’t have anyone to delegate to. Which means that if they were assigned to the CEO’s project, their team would suffer. That’s not a win for the manager, the department, or the organization.
But I can see the manager’s point of view too. The company tells them that they need to develop employees then fills their plate with all sorts of other projects. Developing employees often moves way down on the priority list.
The way organizations and managers can shift the focus back to employee development is by making it part of the manager’s performance expectations (i.e. part of their performance review). And let’s take it one step further, it should be a part of the learning and development (L&D) department metrics.
Learning and development teams should have a metric that reflects the ratio of employees who receive training versus development. I like to define training as learning related to the job you have and development as learning towards a future role. It should be easy to track – – when an employee attends a learning event, is it training or development? That will tell the organization how much talent development is taking place.
Managers should be held accountable for giving their employees development opportunities. Managers should be able to set a goal of scheduling every employee for a certain number of development sessions each year. My guess is that, right now, employees are asked to complete a minimum number of training hours each year. Extend that to include a minimum number of development hours.
Organizations could take this one step further and ask employees to identify one area of development they would like to learn more about during the upcoming year. It could be a goal that managers and employees agree upon. Not only does this help the organization develop future talent but it can start a conversation about where employees would like to be (from a career perspective) in the years to come.
Many organizations don’t want to create formal replacement or succession plans. I get it. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have any plans when it comes to future staffing. Holding everyone accountable for development can keep efforts moving in a positive direction, even when formal plans aren’t being made.
In today’s job market, it’s possible that the candidates being hired need training and development. Organizations should set aside resources for this purpose. Effective talent management and development is the key to future organizational growth.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the ATD International Conference in San Diego, CA17