Taking Responsibility = Trouble (Part 4 of 4)

4 minute read

How many times have you heard it’s your responsibility to develop your team members? We see it, hear it, read it all over the place. 

We’re calling BS on that!

Thinking it’s your responsibility to develop them is another example where taking responsibility turns into trouble.

Let’s talk about the problems that pop up when this kind of mindset is normalized and pervasive across an organization. 

  1. At best, one thing that’s definitely going to happen is employees will take a passive role, waiting for you to spoon feed them. At worst, individuals will see themselves as the victim, and then they’re going to blame the manager for their lack of growth and advancement.
  2. It’s not surprising because when that happens and managers are taking responsibility that actually belongs to the employee, those employees are less likely to pay attention or think critically about their own performance because someone else is doing it. And, they’re also not likely to forecast what’s required of them with upcoming work.
  3. Another point of trouble is that managers with the pure intention of being an awesome leader take it too far. They start showing more ownership, spending more of their own time, energy, and effort on their team member’s growth than the team member themselves. This kind of situation is common and it creates a lot of frustration, dysfunction, and turnover in a company. And not just with team members, also with managers.

Oh, yeah. To be honest, that’s part of the reason why I left the past role in management. Well, when you’re a manager and you’re being held responsible for someone else’s behavior…Yeah, a whole other host of problems.

So, what to do? Here are three simple steps to get going.

  1. Tell employees, explicitly, every individual is 100% responsible for their career success, satisfaction, growth, and advancement. The manager is in a support role.
  2. State the expectation that they identify three focus areas for their development. That way you’re not doing it for them, and you’re making sure to reinforce the fact that it’s their responsibility to do it. And make sure that they’re covering both the technical and the behavioral side of their performance. 
  3. One last thing you can do as a manager is when that team member comes up with that plan, help them refine the plan with your own input. This is a great spot for you to bring your experience to help create clarity on those specific focus areas and on the plan to address it. [Remember, your role as manager is to support the team member’s plan with resources, feedback, encouragement, accountability, not to do it for them.]
    • That may also mean getting them enrolled in a course. So if a team member comes to you and says, “Oh my gosh, I want to take this amazing online course called Wingspan Performance Academy,” you secure funding for it. Their job is to take the course and then show that they’re using what they’ve learned. Your job is to help make sure that it gets approved.

Cool. Now that we got that monkey off of your back, relax and remember that this is another way that taking responsibility creates trouble.

As you review this video and want help with implementation of these three concepts, give us a call. See you soon.

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Wingspan partners with leaders around the world to strengthen their behavioral performance and communication. Our approach centers on creating more intentional outcomes by developing healthy behavior systems, more productive interactions, and more meaningful relationships.