I was leading a succession planning process with a group of nursing managers. The goal of the process was to identify future supervisors and managers from the current staff and create a process to develop them, monitoring their progress so they would be ready for a leadership role in 1 to 5 years.
Part way through the process, an epiphany happened for one of the managers. After talking about identifying people who were hungry for learning and taking on more responsibility, she said “I just realized that my most skilled nurses, the ones who have been around the longest, are not the people that will be leaders for me in a few years. They just want to do their job.”
The fact is, everyone should have a career plan – even if it is to stay in place and help solve bigger problems. But if you have limited time as a leader, your first focus has to be on the people who want more and are capable of doing more. Is this fair? Based on the trUPerformance lens I use, I would say yes. A career plan takes guidance from you as a leader and extra effort/ownership from an individual, so asking that of someone is only fair if they are willing and have the capacity to do it. It is built on a foundation of trust and truth.
These three questions are the foundation of truth for this conversation:
- Do you want more responsibility?
- Are you willing to take on the work?
- Do I believe you have the capacity to grow into the larger role?
The ability to answer these questions with the truth, and face-to-face, requires trust.
I have personally been through at least a half dozen processes, from multiple day assessments to formal outplacement services. When it is all said and done, here are the key pieces of information that any individual needs to document:
- Strengths (not just Talents, but what the individual has proven they do well)
- Short-term goals (6-12 months)
- Long-term goals (1-5 years)
- Current job responsibilities/accountabilities
- Development areas (1-3) to focus on and action plans
The process to do this is outlined in my whitepaper, Own It! 5 Tips for Managing Your Career and Performance. The trick for you as a leader? Being confident enough to put some extra work into identifying and engaging your best people in the conversation, and the skill to lead the conversation while delegating most of the work. Here is a link to the form to get you started.
If you need help getting started, it is just one click away – firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great time of year to have this conversation – it will feed into a few New Year’s Resolutions that will make your business more successful and help you tackle some of the problems that are making your job harder.