Growing people is like growing a farm. You are the farmer and your people are the crops.
As a farmer, it is your duty to water your crops and protect them from pests and weeds. If you take good care of your crops, they will provide you with a good harvest.
Same thing goes with being a leader.
A good leader understands the importance of nurturing or developing their people’s talents. However, just like a plant, too much nurturing can actually cause them to wilt.
So how do you grow your people’s talent without treating them like a spoiled child, or forgetting them completely?
1. Act as a Role Model
Before anything else, be the person that you want your people to be like. If you want your people to be diligent and responsible, be diligent and responsible yourself.
Keep on learning. Just because you’re the leader of your team, doesn’t mean that you already know everything there is to learn.
Cori Hill, the creator of Active Leader, said that “Power messes up our ability to learn.” Invulnerability and insecurity among leaders is a stumbling block for organizations.
So don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and then learn more about it. Just like in the kung fu movies, the protagonist always gets stronger after learning and training more.
2. Give Them a Clear Purpose
What role do you need your employee to do? Do they know those roles? What’s their purpose in your company?
Most managers hire people and get them on board without telling them how their role will help the company succeed.
Being vague about your employees’ purpose will hold them back from growing and developing because they will not be able to measure it.
Ask them what they think of their role, let them know your expectations, ask them what their goals are regarding their roles and your expectations, and then create an outline to achieve those goals. Meet each other in the middle.
Don’t just get them do tasks because that’s what you hired them for. Let them understand how and why their role is important to the company.
3. Let Them Learn
Promote learning and training in your company. However, not everyone in your company needs the same kind of training.
Ask your people which areas they think they are lacking and provide them with training for that. That way, they’ll know how to be successful in their roles.
But as they say, the best teacher is experience. Your employees won’t be able to learn if you keep on hovering over them and telling them what to do. Let them do the tasks you assigned them by themselves, and let them do it their way. Once you have provided them with the learnings and training, trust in them that they will be able to do their roles.
Yes, you can provide them with supervision, but the more you let them do it themselves, the more confident they’ll become. Remember, they are not babies, you don’t need to hold their hands all the time.
4. Help Them Take Accountability
Development will not happen without accountability. Let your people take accountability for their tasks and their actions. Review their performance and provide them with honest feedback so they can improve.
Many leaders don’t give constructive feedback because they feel that they will offend their employees. Keep in mind that it is important that they know which areas need improvement so they can do their best for your company.
But remember, “criticize in private and give praise in public”.
What’s the point of reprimanding an employee if they lose the confidence to move forward from there? Use problems as opportunities to develop them without making them feel like their mistakes will hold them back forever. Instead, encourage them to make decisions themselves and become responsible for their roles.
5. Accept Feedback
How else would you know if your ways are working if you don’t ask for feedback from your team?
Ask them what they think about the way you lead them and hear them out. Learning was never one-sided. You can learn from your people too.
This also promotes better communication in your team and lets them feel that you actually care for them.
Your success is based on your people’s success. So create an environment where your people’s honest feedback is appreciated.
Support development and learning in your company. The more your company learns and grows, the more your chances of succeeding in business will grow as well. Nurture your people, but not too much that you’ll end up destroying them. Become the person you want them to be, teach them how to do it, then let them do it on their own.