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'Developing New Skills' from Your Talent@Work with Shawn Kent Hayashi

Developing New Skills

Posted: May 29, 2012

Imagine this: You have an employee who desperately wants to develop a new ability or skill. As their manager or coach, your first step is to get them thinking about the ability they want to master. Questions to begin this conversation include:

What is important about this ability to you?

  • How will this ability benefit you?

  • Whom do you know who is particularly strong in this ability?

  • What do they currently do differently than you do?

  • How do they think about or approach this ability?

  • Is there anything you realize they do not do that you are currently doing?

Once you've gone through these questions, support the observations and conclusions the person you're coaching is making. Dig into those observations and create a way for your team member to practice the skill they aim to master and improve.

In follow-up conversations, you will want to continue providing employees with opportunities to practice the skill, and also the thinking that is necessary for mastery. As their manager and coach, be clear about what actions are the right actions. What do they have to do to gain the ability they seek? Together the two of you can craft a process or framework for developing this skill, even providing the specific next steps they need to take. Share your own stories about learning to develop certain skills during your career and how this process helped you to get there.

As a developer of star performers you need step-by-step plans that show your team members how to boost performance and achieve results. These action steps are keys to good managing. In fact, the reason why some managers are world-class and others fall short is their know-how, energy, enthusiasm and confidence - which they've gotten because they have learned how to hit goals and achieve results. Be goal oriented.  Collect your own uplifting stories about succeeding despite obstacles. Collect inspiring stories of others who have learned how to do new things and share them with your employees. Pass along the inspiration.  You are role modeling.

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