Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Step 5 - Blend

Now it’s time for action. You’ve got the motivation, you’ve got the plan, now you just need to execute it. Key elements here are encouragement, feedback, a willingness to tolerate mistakes, and being open to experimentation. The plan for development, no matter how well crafted, doesn’t always work to expectations. Problems need to be spotted and diagnosed early, alternatives explored, and new approaches monitored for effectiveness. This is where leveraging others is particularly helpful. To the extent that others are aware of and understand the need that is being worked on, they can act as a network to provide feedback, advice and support. While it can be difficult for the learner to be open about his or her need to develop, it often makes a difference in terms of eventual success. Others know how difficult it is to change and often the learner’s willingness to admit the need for change and the need for help in changing can rally others around him or her.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Step 4 - Build

To round out my posts before I depart for my new assignment in Singapore, I will provide an overview of the final three steps in the development process. (Steps 1-3 were highlighted earlier this year.) The next step is "Build":

Once you have a motivated learner with a clearly identified need, now you can start to address the “how” of development. This is a fairly time-tested, reliable process. Set some measurable goals, put together a detailed plan, including specific changes in thinking and/or behavior, and make sure the necessary resources are available to support the effort. There are, of course, some important things to consider. How much time can be allocated to addressing the need? How long will it take for real signs of improvement to start to appear? What factors in the work environment might distract from implementing new approaches or even reinforce current practices? Another thing to consider at this stage is that development is not always about taking a straight line to “getting better” at something. Oftentimes, more indirect and creative approaches can be used, including engaging in workarounds (for example, I’m not good at planning, so I’ll just delegate it to someone else who does it better) or substituting strengths to cover for a weakness (for example, I feel awkward in new social situations, so I will use my sense of humor to create rapport).