Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sometimes Growing Is Hard

I was reviewing some notes about a company I worked for quite some time ago. This organization was struggling with several issues including retention of their most creative and capable resources. At one particular leadership meeting I heard the message of helping people grow repeated multiple times. However, what I never heard was a desire to train. We spoke often about helping people to learn, but very little was said about how to improve the ways in which they were taught.

At several opportune moments I interjected that perhaps we needed more formal training. That we needed a model to deliberately and consistently teach each level of the organization what we expected them to know. It was met with head-on disapproval. If we spend time teaching, we impact productivity. If we make the learning and evaluation more rigid then it would discourage creativity and individual development. What a bunch of nonsense. Oh, I get that there is a very real cost to training and teaching. I understand that with a guideline and criteria against which people can be judged there will inevitably be those who cannot measure up. Which means difficult decisions and even harder conversations.

What about our culture of individualism, self-improvement, and the environment of empowerment we try so hard to foster? I fail to see the relevance. How many times have I seen leaders with the passion and desire to be better, but lacking the skills or ability. Countless. Why do we feel that just because want to allow people to figure out how to be mentors, how to be leaders, how to encourage improvement and quality, we must also refuse to give them tools to d that effectively. Why do we fail to give them criteria or a standard by which to measure this growth?

To build a world-class organization you need to provide specific tools and training so that the people we expect to lead have the ability to match their passion. They need to be measured on multiple aspects of their leadership and held accountable for their ability to improve and grow others, not just delivering tactical objectives. Those who need more help should be able to get it. Those with the desire to be leaders need to be equipped to be leaders. It is not acceptable to simply assume that the smart middle-management will be successful at supporting an environment or a culture where people encourage each other. It takes iron to sharpen iron. Sometimes you have to be trained to do the things you want to do.



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