Thursday, March 24, 2011


Does your Boss care about your Personal Growth?

During annual review time, employees are passionately thinking about ways to complete the "growth" section of their annual review, but always seem to stop short of asking whether their boss actually cares about their personal growth making any thoughts in this regard futile...

Throughout one's career, one will have some really great bosses and others that leave a lot to be desired. So, as to not publicly point out shortcomings of anyone I worked with in the past or even my current boss for that matter, I will use examples of situations in which I was the boss and others reported to me.

The one thing that you will know about me as a leader is that I deeply care about the personal growth of anyone and everyone reporting to me. If you look at my profile on LinkedIn, there are at least a dozen testimonies to this regard. Without stroking my ego too much, the reason I think I have been successful in this regard is that I have figured out that a precursor to growth is the notion of autonomy.

In order for a person to grow, they can't be too closely controlled and many of my direct reports either consciously or subconsciously view control as the main growht opportunity. This doesn't mean that you can't control those who report to you, but rather acknowledging the simple fact that you cannot control someone completely.

Autonomy isn't something that should be doled out like a reward but rather something that is openly given if you genuinely care about the growth of people reporting to you. Autonomy can come in many forms from allowing a person to choose their work style, work location and even methods for collaboration. Giving people more leeway is the catalyst to enabling hypergrowth amongst members of your team.

It is vital that a person be allowed to make mistakes! If your direct reports have control only to the extent that they make the same choices as you would, then you need to acknowledge that they really didn't have any choices/options at all.

Many of the worst managers I have ever had the privilege of reporting to fail to acknowledge that the question of control comes up primarily in choice of methods to get work done. As designer/architect of the organization which you control, you may believe that it is your responsibility to select how each task should be undertaken. Should the financials, the solution, the deliverable, etc be presented in a simple PowerPoint or better as a combined Word/Excel document.

Ask yourself what you would do, but more importantly ask yourself what happens when team members decide otherwise. Let's face it, your team is it in for growth and the choices you as boss are making don't allow them to grow. That's why they will continue to look to approach work in a different way than you.

In order to keep control, you have to give it up. You have to use your authority so sparingly that no one notices that it's being used. You have to create a real sense that control is not completely centralized in your hands, but spread generously over the whole of your organization...

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