Q&A: Guidance for Managers in Helping Their Team Members Grow
Jul 03 2019
Helping people grow and reach their full potential sometimes means letting them pursue opportunities that lie outside your domain as manager.
Outside manager’s skill set
What are some tips for helping your team members grow when their interests are outside of your personal experience and expertise? I want to be supportive and point them in the right direction.
“First, directly ask your team members how you can help them and what they need for growth and development.” Michelle Pribyl, Business Manager, Wallman Investment Counsel
“We recently expanded our digital and design services, an area I don’t have enough background or expertise in to provide mentorship. For team members that have an interest in these areas, we sponsor their membership in a professional association or a workshop series to encourage development.” Lori Richards, President & Partner, Mueller Communications
“Look in your network of peers and friends to see if they have experience and they’re willing to help you with support. You can also encourage team members to do research and bring suggestions to you for you evaluate with them and find the right opportunity.” Cheryl Tidwell, VP US Sales Practice, BTS
“Consider a temp duty assignment, where you place an employee in another area/department where they have interest. It’s a great way for them to learn a new skill, and encourages growth and engagement. Make sure clear expectations are set– this isn’t a permanent job, only temporary– and they will return to their current position. Work with HR to make sure this is acceptable. This has been extremely successful for me in the past. It’s a win/win for the employee and the company. If they really learn the role and a position opens in the other area, they will already have the experience to move into that new role.” Lu Borchardt, Information Services Director, American Family Insurance
Outside the company
On two occasions in the last week my boss told me one of my great employees–who digs into details and adds value to our team– isn’t going to move up at our organization. I want her to be successful. Having just spent 17 years at one company and realized what it’s like to hit your ceiling with an organization, I want to tell her to run. I know I can’t as her boss.
“Legally, you need to be careful, but you can ask questions about her goals and aspirations and gently guide the conversation to what would make her happy. One of my best bosses told me he wasn’t sure that upper management ‘saw my magic’ like he did. That conversation led me to better things elsewhere.” – Beth Healy, President at Beth Healy Consulting, LLC
“Absolutely don’t tell her she has no opportunity to move ahead at this company. That may come back to bite you with legal action. Instead find out what she has done previously–why your leadership is stating she has no opportunity to move up. When you have that information in hand, share with the employee improvement opportunities. This needs to be her plan (she needs to own it, not you). Meet with her bi-weekly to track her improvements. Ask her to meet with others to gauge how she is doing. Ask your leadership if they see a change. If she’s willing and wanting to change, I hope your leadership is willing to give her a chance. If her activity in the past was poor or continues to be in a manner your company doesn’t accept, it’s time to engage HR for assistance. You definitely need their support in these situations. Lu Borchard, Information Services Director, American Family Insurance
“Have a conversation with her about her goals. You may find out your worry is warranted or totally unfounded. She may be happy in her current position, or maybe hoping for a promotion. You won’t know until you discuss it. If she’s happy, she just needs to be reminded to follow certain protocol. If she’s hoping for advancement you can be honest about the possibility of that happening. She can make her own informed decision.” – Building Brave Community
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