In sports, a good coach knows that each member of their team needs different focuses and development in order for them to play at their best. We often forget that in the business world as we launch general leadership or on-the-job training and expect the same results across the board.  Today, we’ll dive into tips and reminders and why and how you should be developing your teams as individuals. 

Don’t treat them equally

We are champions and supporters of equality and inclusion, but to be a champion and ally you’ve got to avoid treating your people equally. 

Think about creating a space where everyone has an equal shot at a promotion, or even just to be successful in the that they are currently in. Let’s look at a team of people in similar roles, for our example. You may find a person who has trouble stepping up to difficult conversations, another who is not great at selecting talent, and a third who is rigid in how they communicate. They are all people leaders so your company puts them through some hiring skills training. They all got equal training, but only one has had a chance to fill in their leadership gap. 

Think of your team as a set of amazing engines that have the capability to run at the same speed. Your development opportunities, connections, experiences, and other offerings are your toolkit. Each engine needs a little something different to get it completely tuned up. Back to our team dynamic, that may mean the one that struggles in difficult conversations, needs to take some coaching training, have time to do role play with you, and needs extra support as those moments come up. For the communication example, maybe you buy them some books and send them to an emotional intelligence workshop and then follow through with additional verbal communication and executive presence training. 

Treat your team members differently so that they are all tuned up and running at their most efficient. 

Take feedback and opportunities deeper

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in feedback sessions where a leader will make a statement like, “They need to work on their communication skills,” or “They need to step up.” Only for the leader to come back in 6 months to a year and question why the person isn’t a better communicator or has elevated their performance. Besides they told them exactly what to do right?

Open and broad feedback actually holds very little true value, outside a broad, over-arching area of focus. Make the feedback valuable by digging in and understanding what the person really means. For the communication example, Is it written communication, how they give feedback, or executive presence or presentation skills? Those all legitimately fall under “They need to work on their communication skills”, but they are all vastly different in focus and support. 

Being intentional as you dig into feedback and opportunities will help ensure that you are providing an individual and impactful plan for someone who makes good use of their time and yours. 

Your teams are runners in a race

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that throwing training at something (or someone) fixes the problem. We should know better by now! Just as you think about everyone’s development journey as an individual also remember that their arrival is going to be different as well. Just like runners running in a race, you have people at all kinds of different paces out there at the same time. Do they all get to the end? Hopefully, that reminder should help you not to become too frustrated when everyone doesn’t make it across the proverbial finish line at the same time. 

Some are going to need you to go out on the course and give them some encouragement. Others will need even more resources to give them the fuel to push through. Set proper expectations with your team and yourself as you think about your individual development plans for your team. 

To be a successful people leader remember that you’ve got to treat your people differently in how you think about their development, dig into feedback for actionable takeaways, and set proper expectations and follow-up as they start their journey.  Putting these three habits together will accelerate your team’s growth and make you a more impactful leader in the process. 

Make a better tomorrow.