Friday, March 18, 2011

Delegating For Development

Development Activities vs. Job Duties

Once you have identified some employees with high-potential that you would like to groom and develop, consider small actions you can take to maximize opportunities that allow your employee to learn while they work toward accomplishing job duties.
Important things to consider:

Development activities should come with added levels of support. As the employee learns, they will have questions. Pre-plan whom they should go to first and what sources are available to them. You may also suggest some “hands off” sources if you know there is a risk of them learning bad habits first. You will need to make yourself available on a predictable schedule so the employee has access to you as they learn.

Development activities must allow room for failure. Don’t assign a super-sensitive, high visibility project to your employee as a stretch assignment. Pick something that has a long deadline, that you may have time to review and finalize before it goes public, or something that has minor risk if it isn’t “perfect.” Think about how you would explain “perfect” to them as you delegate. Paint a picture of what a perfect outcome would be in your mind. And then be ready to accept less than perfect.

Development activities need a post-mortem. In today’s rush-around, no-resource world we complete projects, check them off the list and move on to the next thing. After a development activity is assigned, schedule a formal meeting to discuss process, roadblocks, successes and key learnings. It can be as simple as “what worked/what didn’t work”. Use it as an opportunity to spring board to the next assignment. Test your employee to see if they are continuously incorporating their new skills into their daily work; this is a way to measure their learning agility.

Most organizations today are relying on “on-the-job” (OTJ) training to develop employees to increasing levels of skill and competence. For OTJ to be effective, it requires a different approach to delegation and categorizing job tasks into development activities. This process aids learning, allows the employee autonomy and accountability, and minimizes risk of failure.

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