Dear Geese: “Been there, done that!”
Why do senior executives stop attending management-training classes? Is it because they think they already know all there is to know about management and leadership or are they simply done learning? I ask because our director is great at “talking the talk” but falls short in “walking the talk,” if you know what I mean. And whenever we bring up the suggestion for him to attend a workshop (like your Leading From Within program), he scoffs and reminds us that he attended “one of those” already at the Center for Creative Leadership earlier in his career.
I always thought personal and professional growth was ongoing.
You’re preaching to the choir on this one. Like you, I believe personal and professional growth is an ongoing journey. More importantly, leaders need to role model this within their own lives, let along their organizations.
Here is what I would want to know about your specific situation:
- Have you had the opportunity to provide feedback to your director? If so, were you direct and honest in asking for what you needed from him?
- Do you know if any of your company’s executives are part of a Vistage group?
- Has your organization ever conducted 360-assessments for their management?
- Has your organization ever conducted an employee-opinion survey for the whole organization?
- Does your department ever do team building with an outside facilitator?
- When performance reviews are given out, do employees also get to provide feedback to their supervisors at the same time?
I raise those questions in order to get a flavor of the culture of your organization. A culture that demonstrates ongoing personal and professional growth constantly seeks out feedback, be it from employees, peers, management, customers, etc., and uses that feedback for the betterment of the organization as a whole. I emphasize the words “uses that feedback” because many organizations ask for feedback and then proceed to do nothing with it.
Sharlene, I do think most leaders would agree that personal and professional growth is an ongoing responsibility. And it wouldn’t surprise me if your director truly believes that he’s doing a pretty good job. But the truth is, without feedback, how would an individual or organization ever really know how they are doing?
The key for me is the feedback system within an organization. It’s the bloodline of successful companies where the blood flows back and forth throughout the organism, always moving and nourishing all the parts along the way. If you think about it, the feedback flow within an organization identifies what’s working and what’s not. It flags struggling managers and those who are thriving. It creates two-way communication. It gives employees a voice and an opportunity to grow. And it reinforces transparency and clarifies growth opportunities for leaders as well.
Organizations committed to personal and professional growth back up their commitment with resources. They constantly seek out classes and workshops for their management and employees. Many hire consultants (like me) to provide one-on-one coaching and consulting for both their management and employees.
So what does this mean for you, Sharlene?
On a personal level: If you haven’t already done so, the best place to start is by providing direct feedback to your director. To do that, identify what you need from him and simply ask for it. Let him know how that particular request will help you be more effective in your job and benefit the department as well.
On a department level: I would recommend using an outside facilitator and doing a half-day team building session. Bring the idea up at your next staff meeting and try to build some momentum. Your Human Resources department should have a list of consultants they use who could facilitate a program for you. A team building session will provide an opportunity to bond as a group and provide some two-way feedback to your director and from your director, and in a constructive way.
I’ll stop here because I don’t know about what other feedback measures your organization is or is not currently using. Hopefully that’s enough for now.
Greg “Geese” Giesen
The Laughing Leader
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