More than a growth spurt… How do we create new opportunities for growth without exposing ourselves to undo risk?

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    Ken Boxer

    More Than A Growth Spurt

    This week’s question came from a fellow GovLooper, Scott Collins. He asked, “How do we create new opportunities for growth without exposing ourselves to undo risk?”

    Please take a moment to read my response and share any additional insights or questions you may have.

    Keys To Leadership Development
    What follows are the top ten strategies for carefully creating opportunities for growth in your organization:

    1. Play to people’s strength’s – The easiest way for people to develop and improve on the job is to leverage their strength’s
    2. Launch controlled situations where people can try new things and develop skills in a setting that allows freedom of expression, development of skills and expanding horizons without creating undo risks. Consider announcing the experiment so that key people around the employee know that you’re creating this experiment.
    3. Allow them to make non-critical errors that produce opportunities for growth – Everyone makes mistakes every day. The key is to learn from them.
    4. Schedule debriefs asking an employee to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t will help them not only get things done but learn from both what they’ve done really well and less well. Provide your perspective to this person.
    5. Increase the level of risk and reward based upon increased willingness and ability of the employee. This is basic good management but not common practice. As you see employees demonstrate increased competence, provide them more opportunities to take on more responsibility and demonstrate new skills.
    6. With more complicated tasks set up milestones along the way that allow for check-ins so there are no surprises. This also helps mitigate huge failures.
    7. Engage in action learning where employees work with others and develop skills. We’ve implemented this with many organizations whereby organizations “triple-dip” allowing employees to make big things happen, develop specific skills, and learn from others.
    8. Set up a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” system of group mentoring whereby the employee can (a) go to a colleague who can give them an answer to a tough question and/or a multiple choice option asking them to make a decision, (b) they can ask “an audience member” – a member of a group and/or team, or (c) phone a friend (you could establish a group mentoring resources that this person might draw upon).
    9. Clarify expectations at the beginning of projects. Outline what you expect from the employee and the importance of being a good beginner and good learner.
    10. Encourage managers to listen to the thinking of employees. If people have well thought out plans and execute those plans; while the outcome may not be ideal it’s a great way to help you understand potential challenges and coach the employee on ways that they might avoid pitfalls along the way.

    Your Thoughts?

    • What have you found to be the biggest hindrance in your personal growth?
    • What strategies do you employ to help others grow?

    Next Week’s Question
    Questions are a powerful way to facilitate learning!

    What questions do you have for next week on how to more effectively?

    • Engage and retain top talent
    • Develop leaders
    • Manage organization change

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