As we know, no one is perfect. Everyone – employees and managers included – always has room for improvement in one area or another.
Telling an employee that they need development is an area that can easily lead to resentment, hurt feelings and any number of things that would create tension in employee-manager relationships. Telling an employee they need development is difficult; this is a tale as old as time.
Telling an employee, "you need to be developed" with the intention of improving their performance might sound like "you're not good enough" to the employee. Leaders are hoping these conversations will help the employee prosper in the organization, but this can't happen if the employee starts off thinking "I'm not good enough" So, how can a leader approach this conversation with positivity and courtesy?
How to Approach the Development Conversation
Normally to prepare for the development conversation as a leader, you would benefit from already having asked your employee "do you really want to be developed?" By asking this question, you know the level of commitment and dedication your employee has in their role. These answers will tell you which employees are worth developing, as well as prepare employees for the development process.
But, if you skipped asking that question, don't worry, there's something else you can do. Instead, start by asking them, "what is it you're really good at?" Or, "as your leader, here's where I think you are excelling." This starts off the conversation on a positive note, giving your employee a sense of accomplishment and worth. Follow up with "what is a skill you would like to develop?" Or, "what I would love to help you with is increase this skill to see you succeed in your role and influence the success of the company."
Now your employee will feel proud of the skills they're excelling at, and feel eager to extend that talent to other skills.
The Business Impact of a Successful Conversation
Yes, the first benefit to a successful development conversation is employee learning, success, and performance management. But a well enacted interaction also creates a learning culture. Employees have the perks of open communication and feedback to grow their career, and because of the positive nature of these discussions, employees will feel comfortable pursuing opportunity in their organization.
Take the time to approach an open discussion to help your employee development and growth!