In this episode we are going to continue our focus on the ‘People’ pillar of High Performance Teams. In particular, building strategic development plans for each of your team members.
The basketball coaching legend, John Wooden inspired thousands of young athletes to greatness. He said, “I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organisation, and a strong organisation starts with caring for their people.”
When I refer to strategic development plans, I mean now that you’ve got the right people in the right role, you need to strategically develop them so they can be their absolute best.
To do that, you must have to genuinely, authentically care about each and every one of them. Remember, Napoleon said, “Leaders are dealers in hope.” So often we get caught up with the business commercials and the targets and the things we’ve got to do, and we forget that the greatest legacy we can potentially leave on the planet is the growth of the people in our team. Don’t shortcut on this. It’s a simple process but pays big dividends in performance, trust and legacy.
When I was working at the Queensland Reds, Super Rugby team as high performance coach in 2015 every single player in every single position had a development plan which outlined the physical, technical and tactical capabilities the needed to be successful in their role. The coaching staff worked tirelessly to improve their skills throughout the year to build those new capabilities.
What are the skills, education and experience that each of your people need to perform their job to the absolute limit of their potential?
Not just what they should be capable of, but what’s the potential for them?
Remember, if you get all of your team all growing every single week, every single month, improving in their own skills the entire team performance is going to grow.
What’s more than that, if you’re facing some internal resistance it might be because people are stalled in their development. They’ve got a fixed rather than a growth mindset. One of the best ways to shift a fixed mindset is to pour add some new skill and knowledge into the minds of your people which starts to broaden their mind and perspective. This brings new thoughts and ideas to a problem or a particular piece of their work, and the whole game changes.
Leaders are dealers in hope and key role of all leaders is coaching. All coaches develop their people and they do it with a clear strategy. This is not HR’s job. HR will support you with the things they need to do, but developing your people, working out the plan is your job. It’s also not the people that report to you. It’s not their job either. You’ve employed them. You’ve brought them in to do a great job, now develop them. Make them amazing. Really invest the time, the effort, the energy into developing them.
A strategic development plan has only a few steps. The first thing is, you need to understand their personal dreams and goals. What are they here for? What do they want in life and in their career? This won’t be their only job in their career. They’ll be here for a while working for the company, and eventually they’ll move on. Don’t bracket them and think, “I’ve just got to get the ounce of sweat over them over the next few years, and then we’re done.” No, think about what you can do for that person for their entire life and career.
Start with learning what their big dreams and goals are, then clarify what the current role is meant to do. What it would look like if they were absolutely knocking it out of the park? What is expected of them every single day?
This is being crystal clear about that role, which we covered in the last episode.
Then do a gap analysis on where they are now, compared to where they need to be on skills, education and experience.
Then plan how they’re going to accumulate those new capabilities and regularly check in on them. That’s it.
When you think about it, when we go back through the last three episodes, where you got the right person in the right role. That was absolutely vital because now everybody knows or is doing something that makes sense for them, that plays to their strengths, that’s work they value, and now you’re improving their performance every single week. Well, as soon as you’ve got those three things lined up, they are going to fly.
Chief, this might not seem like a lot, but whenever I walk into a team that wants to become high performing, this is one of the first things I look for. I look for how much they’re developing their people. If there’s no plan to develop each of their people, I know this is one of the very first things we need to do.
You don’t have to invest a lot of money. You can create all sorts of ways and means of sharing information, podcasting, doing group book reviews in your team. You can cut corners on this develop or save money on this development at every opportunity.
So, Chief, that process again. Start with dreams and goals, then go with role definition, what is required of them. Then, do the gap analysis on their skills from where they are now to what is required to perform the job to their utmost ability. Then, work out the skills, the experience, and the knowledge, and the education you’re going to give them over the next 12 months. And then, execute and get that done so every single week they’re improving and growing as an individual.
If you think for a minute about maybe someone in your career who’s really taken you under their wing and given you the right development and gone the extra mile, you never forget that person. That someone becomes special in your heart. We often talk about them as being mentors. Imagine the difference you can make in the world if you do this for everyone in your team.
In fact, imagine if you didn’t. Imagine for a minute you didn’t have any development plans for any of the people in your team. What would that be doing to your performance? How much would you be leaving on the table? It’s just a fantastic opportunity to get quick wins.
Spend some time and get a strategic development plan for each of your people.
That sums it up for this week.
As always, remember to stay epic.