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Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

Development opportunity, or more responsibility without recognition?

By Mark Turner

Development opportunity, or more responsibility without recognition? Principal consultant Mark Turner shares his tips for making sure a development opportunity doesn’t become a missed opportunity.

A few months ago, I coached a team manager who was fairly new to the client with whom I was working. For the purpose of this story, I’ll call him Bill.

I asked Bill what he wanted to achieve in his new role and he admitted that he didn’t really see himself progressing with this current employer.

Although he had gained experience in a previous company during a development opportunity covering for someone more senior, Bill didn’t feel this experience would be recognised by his current employer. He thought that other colleagues with longer lengths of service would be offered more senior positions first.

Interestingly, Bill received neither coaching nor feedback on how he had performed during his development opportunity. He simply returned to his original role. As nobody had told him that he’d done anything substandard, Bill’s perception was that he had performed okay. However, without any clear feedback he couldn’t positively articulate what he had achieved.

A few weeks later, one of Bill’s team members – I’ll call him Ben – finished covering for a senior colleague who had temporarily been away from the business. I asked Bill how Ben had performed during this development opportunity.

“Ben has done really well,” said Bill.

“Have you told him that?” I asked.

“No,”a slightly embarrassed Bill replied.

We reflected on how Bill had felt after his own development opportunity had ended without recognition or future goal setting, and how Ben probably felt now.

It feels to me that there are some important steps to take in order that you, your colleagues and your organisation benefit from a development opportunity.

1. Real development opportunities shouldn’t be treated lightly. The organisation needs to properly commit and be clear about the deliverables expected

2. To support this commitment, there needs to be a conversation with the person for the whom the opportunity exists to explain:

  • What you are looking for them to achieve
  • What evidence you need to see during and at the end of the development opportunity

3. Finally, at the end of the period, a good practice is to meet and reflect on how well the development period went and agree next steps. At Curium, we use a ‘win, learn, change’ approach

I acknowledge that these recommendations may be embedded in lots of organisations. However, these two related tales made me wonder about how frequently organisations overlook opportunities to empower the potential of their people and develop more engaged employees able to continually improve their skills.

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