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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Development FIRST Yields Continuous Improvement

One of the most important qualities of a good leader is the ability and desire to develop their employees. Taking an active role in the development of your team demonstrates confidence and concern for the future of the organization. Unfortunately, development coaching doesn't come naturally to many leaders. The Development FIRST model outlines the following strategies for employee development:

Focus on priorities: Identify critical issues and goals.
Implement something every day: Stretch your comfort zone.
Reflect on what happens: Extract maximum learning from your experiences.
Seek feedback and support: Learn from other people's ideas and perspectives.
Transfer learning to next steps: Adapt and plan for continued learning.

A good development plan should include the following components:
  • A limited number of development priorities. For best results, people should not tackle more than one or two objectives at a time.
  • Opportunities to incorporate daily action. Successful development is evolutionary, not revolutionary.  Smaller daily activities will yield better results than on big burst of activity. An effective development plan specifies situations, time, and people that will trigger development action.
  • Focus on job development activities. Training and development programs are useful, but people also need on-the-job practice.
  • How and when the person plans to reflect on new learning. Research shows that it is not enough to practice new skills: people need time to think about what they have learned. They need to talk about, write down, and think about what they did, what happened, and what they learned.
  • Ways to get ongoing feedback and to track and sustain progress. People need to get accurate, current information on progress to persist toward their goals. An effective plan identifies:
    • Sources and processes for getting relevant feedback.
    • People who can provide encouragement and support.
    • How the person will measure progress toward his or her goals.
  • When and how people will review their plans and transfer them into next steps. Plans often need to be adapted as circumstances change and people get more skilled.

Many organizations are undergoing a revolution. They are under tremendous pressure to stay abreast of change, to do more with less, and to become more agile and versatile. To keep pace, their approach to development must undergo a revolution as well. This revolution requires them to rethink assumptions and to reposition development practices. To meet these demands, organizations need to shift their focus from the tools, programs, and events of development to the ultimate goal: continuous learning that is integrated with people's daily work lives. With learning the foreground, the tools, events, and strategies of development can be more potently deployed to meet the challenges of dynamic organizations.

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