5 Ways a Development Mindset Impacts the Manager-Employee Relationship

by Julie Winkle Giulioni | Posted | Learning

5 Ways a Development Mindset Impacts the Manager-Employee Relationship

Organizations today face intense competition on many fronts. Competition for customers is consistently on the rise in an option-rich and global marketplace. Competition for raw materials and resources stymies many industries. And, if the Conference Board and economists are correct, competition for workers will be heating up as well as we declare a new war for talent.

As a result, many leaders are coming to the realization that their only truly sustainable competitive advantage is making a commitment to the development of their employees. They realize that enabling skillful, committed workers to consistently press beyond the boundaries of what they know and can do is the best and most well-leveraged investment they can make in the business.

But creating a culture of development within an organization doesn't happen by decree. Nor does it happen when an executive reads an article about a new philosophy in an airline magazine. And, it doesn't happen because new courses are offered in the latest, cutting-edge format. It happens when everyone adopts a development mindset.

A development mindset means a shift in thinking

This development mindset is a whole new way of thinking that demands significant shifts for managers and employees alike.



Manager as development dictator

Manager as facilitator of resources

Manager as ‘owner' of an employee's development

Manager as partner in learning

Employee as passive consumer of developmental services

Employee as co-creator of development and results

Employee as follower of someone else's lead

Employee as leader of his/her own development experience

A new manager-employee relationship

For managers, the development mindset boils down to a different relationship with employees. It's all about these five things:

1. The democratization of learning

Gone are the days when ‘hi-pos' were the primary training target population. Survival depends on everyone at every level attaining their highest potential. As a result, leaders who believe that all employees are capable of growth and make learning universally available to the masses (as opposed to treating it as a perk for a few) will be rewarded with greater capacity and results.

2. Recognizing and seizing developmental opportunities within the context of work

Development can no longer be relegated to the classroom (or webinar or online learning course.) Life offers rich and cost-effective learning opportunities. Work unlocks wisdom. When managers and employees alike can take a moment to step back and critically look at what needs to be done with an eye toward development, the potential to press the boundaries of one's current capabilities is nearly unlimited.

3. Honoring the role of risk-taking and allowing for failure

For many, learning feels like risky business. Genuine, productive development is messy. It means that people are operating beyond their comfort zones. It requires stepping into the unknown, trying new things, coming up short and trying all over again. In fact, when handled constructively, failure can be the most powerful and instructive of teachers. Appreciating this dynamic is key to the development mindset. Contingency planning - anticipating and planning for failure and set-backs - should appear as a required column on all development plans right along with actions and dates.

4. Engaging in an ongoing conversation about development

Given the pressures to perform, it's essential to help employees keep their learning front-of-mind. Managers can help make this happen through ongoing development dialogue. Rather than once-a-year IDP (individual development plan) sessions, effective leaders weave learning into the conversations they are already having with employees.

When someone struggles, they explore the skills that would make work easier. When someone is performing well, they spotlight strengths and talents to build upon. They debrief meetings, events and interactions with an eye toward what was learned. Through this kind of persistent, consistent conversation, leaders are able to transfer their development mindset to employees - and in the process create an unbeatable culture.

5. Balancing learning with output

A development mindset requires a new way of thinking about results. It elevates the role of learning and requires that leaders balance it with the bottom line (whatever that might be - production, sales, new products, etc.) Enhanced retention, engagement, long-term capacity and organizational results may require shifting some priorities, expanding the dashboard of critical metrics to include learning, and reducing short-term expectations.

The benefits of cultivating a development mindset

Leveraging on-the-job growth drives what matters most to organizations - keeping top talent, tapping discretionary effort, exploring new opportunities, and driving the bottom-line. As a result, cultivating a development mindset may be the most effective strategic priority an organization can undertake. Are you set for a new mindset?

Tools to Help You Develop Employees

Use this template and these checklists to foster development.

Download Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Tools to Help You Develop Employees

Use this template and these checklists to foster development.

Download Now

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