DAY ONE I tell my college students that whatever their level of skills may be is okay by me. My role is to help them: identify and build on their strengths, improve their thinking skills, and gain confidence in their intelligence. Developing students’ discretionary skills is a critical part of my job. Others often see my job as teaching students how to write for business. This is narrow thinking.
Business managers can fall into the narrow-thinking trap too. Often pressed for time and swamped with work, managers simply want to ensure that new employees can do the job. The training focus: learning job activities, skimping on discretionary skills.
Why don’t managers include developing their new employees’ discretionary skills as a critical part of their jobs? The payoffs are enormous – particularly in a service economy where customer expectations are at all time highs, given the technology impact on service delivery. Managers need to take an active role in the ongoing development of discretionary skills from DAY ONE.
Here are some IFs and WHENs for managers to consider:
If your company provides a mandated script for new employees to use in greeting, closing and referring problems, when do you expect the employees to master the script so that they sound and act naturally?
If your company expects employees to effectively solve customer problems, when do you expect new employees to start solving problems on their own without prescribed answers? When do you expect them to offer effective or creative solutions to common problems?
If your company rewards problem-solvers, when do you expect new employees to analyze and identify complex problems? When do you expect them to contribute to solutions?
If your company promotes team leaders, when do you expect new employees to participate in leadership activities?
For every When response – 3 days, 4 months, next week – mark your calendar! Here’s your chance to enact that critical part of your job – ongoing development of your employee’s discretionary skills — with 5 minute coaching that will a) congratulate progress; b) provide additional ideas/actions; c) redirect responses…..and/or etc… [For tips see my blog “Giving 5 Minute Coaching” 2012/06/22.]
Finally, If your new employees complain that their skills and talents are not being used or developed….. This is a complaint I continually hear from students leaving college for the workplace as interns or as new employees. This is a generation that expects to be developed. And a good thing too! For every business is challenged by customers, technology, global growth and complex problems.
…………………………………………………..so, when do you respond with a plan?