Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When is it OK NOT to Develop? Hint: Never.

This post first appeared in SmartBrief on Leadership:

Here’s a question I often get from managers:
“I have employees that don’t want to be developed. They just want to come to work, do their jobs, and go home. Development isn’t for everyone, right? I can’t force them to develop if they don’t want to!”

My answer? Yes, you and your employees are free to ignore that stupid individual development plan form that HR is forcing down your throats. But only if the employee can check off each of the following items and you’re willing to sign off on it:
- No changes in technology, now or next 2-3 years

- No changes in work processes, now or next 1-2 years
- No changes in customer preferences, requirements
- Can score a 10/10 on all technical/job specific skills
- Can score a 10/10 on all key behavioral competencies
- Company growth will remain flat or decline next 5 years
- There will be no organizational changes requiring new skills
- No interest or potential for promotion
- No interest or possibility of lateral move
- No need to fill in for team, cross-train
- No new projects or assignments coming up
Could you check them all? Probably not. In today’s hypercompetitive, white-water, VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) business environment, if you are not growing you are dying.

Standing still is not an option. Continuous improvement is a business imperative, and quite frankly, a condition of employment. Just as important as “coming to work every day”.
As a leader, letting your employees off the hook for development because “they don’t want to” is a cop-out and weak leadership. You’re letting the employee run the risk of becoming expendable and unemployable, and you’re saying it’s OK to run your team at less than optimal performance.

Too hard line? Please leave a comment if you agree or disagree.

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