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The 7 truths of people development

The 7 truths of people development

Organisations will grow to maturity, level off and die unless new, talented people are added and the existing people continue to grow. A recent survey found that 83% of employees would prefer to advance their career with their current employer but only 58% think that this is likely to happen.*

As a leader or manager, you are responsible not just for the performance of your team but also for their development and growth. The long term viability and stability of the organisation and its workforce depends on it.

In order to successfully develop people, here are 7 truths that you should know:

  • People only use a small percentage of their talents and abilities. This is great because when you get people to use more of their talents and abilities, productivity will be improved without additional cost. Click here to view the benefits of developing your people.
  • People remember failures longer than successes. Although failures or setbacks can be tremendous opportunities for growth, improvement, and new opportunities, many times people will let failures dampen their attitude, self-image and self-esteem. They will often let these setbacks and failures hold them back from taking risks and/or setting new goals.
  • People tend to concentrate on their weaknesses. It is important to bolster or overcome weaknesses, but when excessive time is spent on weaknesses it usually means that a person isn’t spending time in high payoff activities or utilising his or her strengths.
  • People tend to repeat behaviour that is rewarded. There is a story about a fisherman who looked over the side of his boat and saw a snake with a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, he reached down, gently removed the frog from the snake’s mouth and let the frog go free. Now he felt sorry for the hungry snake. Having no food, he took out a flask of bourbon and poured a few drops into the snake’s mouth. The snake swam away happy, the frog was happy and the man was happy for having performed such good deeds. He thought all was well until a few minutes passed and he heard something knock against the side of his boat. Looking down with stunned disbelief, the fisherman saw the snake was back- with two frogs! The fable carries an important lesson: you don’t get what you hope for, ask for, wish for, or beg for – you get what you reward. Come what may, you can count on people and creatures to do the things that they believe will benefit them most.
  • People flourish under praise. You may have witnessed young children beam in excitement or “puff up” with pride when someone gives them praise. Adults are no different than children when it comes to praise. Although many adults have been conditioned to feign modesty or to reject praise, it’s still important to their growth. As long as you’re sincere, it will be very difficult to praise someone too much. For the next seven days, look for things to praise people for and make an extra effort to praise people for any and all accomplishments. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the reaction you get.
  • People crumble under criticism and rejection. Criticism and rejection have the opposite effect of praise and can be very damaging to a person’s growth. When feedback on performance is required, concentrate on the desired outcome or the behaviour, not the person.
  • People are creatures of habit and find it difficult to change. People will change when they hurt enough to have to, get enough insight to want to, and/or learn enough to be able to.

In order to grow people you need to see their unlimited potential and concentrate on what they can become, not what they are now. You need to reward the behaviour you want and praise progress as well as accomplishment. If you want better results, you need better behaviours from your people. This requires change and, as a leader, you need to provide the best possible environment to encourage change.

When your people grow, your organisation will grow, and your success as a leader will be ensured.

*LMA’s L.E.A.D. Survey book ‘Today’s Workplace – Present Realities… Future Realities’ 2013