Developing people

Developing people is probably the single most satisfying thing I have been part of in my working life.

I know that have helped some people to substantially develop themselves and I have helped other people move forward a bit. And there are people that I haven’t really helped at all, too – people I didn’t click with, people I didn’t prioritise and people who didn’t seem to want to or were stuck.

At Brandwatch I think I’ve focused mainly on ‘results first’ in the past year, on outcomes, and I’ve tried to nudge people and stretch them in ways that they could in order for us to better accomplish our goals. It’s been a secondary goal.

In this second year I want to flip that around and put developing people first and foremost. I know if we can do that together – really grow and enable and unlock their creativity and drive – that the results will continue to flow.

As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that the people who I’ve been able to help the most tended to behave in a particular way. They shared attributes or desires, even though they were all very different characters.

1. Want it

They all wanted to develop. And were prepared to take risks, expose themselves, try harder than just showing up for another day. It’s so bloody simple, but they wanted it. Most people I find can tick this box off.

2. Make it happen

They all made stuff happen – they took overall responsibility for their growth. They bought and read books, they updated their plan, they took the steps and volunteered for the projects and pushed their development to happen. They definitely were not sat back. There’s a big drop off from people who want it and people who are prepared to make it happen. The knowing-doing gap.

That’s it…

Pretty simple. So all we need to do as managers is unlock in people the desire to develop themselves and then the habits and commitment to follow through on those desires.

Unfortunately, that skips over two fairly big blocks.

1. It’s bloody hard to *make* someone want to develop, if they don’t already

2. It’s fairly hard to change behaviour in order to develop as an individual (in oneself or in others)

Maybe we could noodle on those two another time 🙂

5 comments

  1. Owen Lee

    Excellent people values and observations Will. Well articulated too. They need to be promoted and encouraged across the world.

  2. Pingback: Ode to Brandwatch
  3. Dom Whitehurst

    I came across this after reading your Shanghai piece. The similarities you describe in terms of developing people are momumentally similar to those faced by teachers (obvious, I know). It feels though there could could be some benefit from cross seeding of what works in schools, in businesses and vice versa.

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