Reposted from my November newsletter

Redux (adjective): Redone, restored, brought back, or revisited.*

Adam Grant has given us all the reasons why we should Think Again – to update our theories-in-practice, take our thinking to the next level, and revisit assumptions we had thought settled in our minds. I’ve noticed some shifts in my own thinking related to ideas I’ve written about this year, so I thought I would give you an update and perhaps some additional points to ponder yourself…

The Leader’s Guide to Developing People (Redux)
All year long, my blog posts and newsletters have focused on ways that leaders can develop people. I’ve recently gained a new appreciation for the biggest challenge, and I have new recommendations…

Even though it’s critical to give people time for development – and to give leaders time to dedicate to developing others, the fact is time is limited. I applaud what Julie Dirksen shared during her book launch for Talk to the Elephant: it’s not enough for us to convince people that something is important – it has to be one of the top three things that’s important. Because these days, we don’t often get further down the list. And there are many circumstances in which time for development isn’t far enough up the list (however much I would like to change that fact).

Back in September, Bev Kay’s newsletter reminded me to appreciate how much can be accomplished in simple day-to-day conversations if leaders hold intention to develop people front-of-mind. Bev says, “When it comes to the manager’s role in development, talk is actually the most precious and results-driving commodity you have to share.” She elaborates:

“What if you could re-imagine your role around helping others grow? What if you reframed this task (which, let’s face it, gets put on the back burner most of the time anyway) in such a way that responsibility rests squarely with the employee? What if your role were more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action rather than actually doing all the work? …Astute managers have gotten comfortable with talking more and doing less. These are no slugs … they’re strategists. They appreciate the power of conversations to inspire and generate change in others.”

I still advise managers to prioritize time for developing people – it’s that important! But I also offer an alternative for those who simply can’t do that – look for simple, everyday opportunities to plant seeds, nudge skill development forward, praise improvements, ask generative questions, share stories, pass on helpful resource recommendations, introduce people to each other, and show you care about your employees’ growth.

No big fanfare, just quick, frequent developmental conversations. That, you can do!