Being in Human Resources for over 14 years, I have a few opinions, which is no surprise for anyone that knows me well. However, professionally, I do try to keep my opinions to myself or at least attempt the coaching approach of self discovery. I posted a blog about this topic previously:
One of my most important and strategic roles is encouragement of a mentoring relationship between managers and staff, help individuals find common ground and influence the engagement process. One situation that surfaces regularly is managing the “boss”; at times, we all are frustrated because we did not know about something that affected our work. By taking ownership, the employee takes control, asks more questions, and engages in conversation about what is going on within the organization, not just what is affecting the employee’s job. A manager directs employees, projects, & responsibilities/priorities & most executives would agree that managers also own the development of tomorrow’s leaders through employee development. With all of the other responsibilities, development tends to fall to the bottom of the priority list, not because the manager does not want to challenge his/her staff, but there is not time to introduce a new skill or project to an employee with a full-plate of tasks and responsibilities. For the employee, owning the relationship drives engagement & if the employee feels a sense of control over their destiny, there is less chance of becoming overwhelmed. When an employee learns a new skill or has success on a project or with a team, results are felt by the manager and the employee & executives take note.
Ideally, a regular, semi-formal status update with two-way communication produces the best results. A status update is not a formal performance review, which will be another topic for another time. However, the use the agenda or notes can be a starting place for a more formalized recap of performance. Typically a status update is a conversation about how things are going, what the employee is working on and where he/she needs help or guidance. Normally, most people consider a status more about telling their boss about what they are doing, not finding out how to help the manager. Many managers are managing both employee expectations & tightening of budget dollars over the last 18 months, those items are challenging in any economic environment. If managers are open to on-the-job development, the employee has an opportunity to lead a project or be exposured to a new project for which you have no experience. A “win” for everyone–employee, manager & the company! Outside training and seminars are valuable, but true skill building comes with experience and practice of those skills.
Discussing future goals is somewhat of a slippery slope. What if there is great satisfaction in the current role and no interest in moving up long-term? Want a different role? Want the manager’s role? Will he/she be a threatened? Reflection of those requests are extremely important. On the flip side, he/she may be open to exposure to new skills or projects. Managers that avoided potential turnover are looked upon extremely positively by senior executives and the team may become more productive, profitable, flexible, & efficient with these development opportunities.
Don’t let that risk be a missed opportunity. Occasionally a manager has information about the employee’s future with the organization that the employee is unaware of or has not discussed with him/her. Maybe the manager is looking for an opportunity to move up (or out) and needs to “train” his/her replacement before assuming this new role.
The outcome is usually worth risk. Being prepared to ask for feedback (honest, maybe even a little brutal) and act upon it—that in my opinion is the toughest part for both managers and employees.
We own it. Manage proactively. Our manager. Our network. Our career. Our development. Our mistakes. Our rewards. Our success.