Leveraging Assignments for Growth
If you’re like most people trying to decide who to assign a task to, you start by identifying who is best equipped to do the job. They’ve done it before, they’ll get it done quicker, and it will take you less time to explain what needs done. It’s a natural starting point, but not necessarily the best ending point for deciding who does what.
Preparing for Growth
Assigning a task to the most qualified person often makes short-term sense. We’re always busy so let’s get it done as efficiently as possible. If you’re comfortable with your current organizational capacity, never expect business to increase or for any existing employees to leave, and don’t care about what’s in the best interest of your employees, then stop here and just assign the current expert.
Chances are the current expert is already busy – the go-to person to get lots of things done. Wouldn’t it be great to have more of them! How did they get to be that competent, reliable resource? By doing things they’d never done before. How do you get more of them? Identify the potential in others and stretch them with new assignments that they aren’t currently good at.
Worried about what happens if that expert ever leaves? Reduce the risk by making sure there are others who are growing in the expert’s skills.
Your short-term efficiency cost gets paid back with interest over the long term.
While you’re growing the novice, imagine what that current expert might be capable of if you stretched them with new assignments! They’ll have time to develop new skills if you stop filling their plate with the stuff they’ve already mastered. You might also consider letting them train the novice, freeing you up from that task.
When people are growing and know that their leaders are committed to their growth they are more content and loyal in their jobs.
The novice grows. The expert grows. Employee satisfaction grows. Your organization’s capacity grows. Your risks go down. Or just do it the old way and enjoy a brief moment of efficiency.
Good leaders are intentional about growing their followers. The larger the organization, the more important formal development processes become. While smaller organizations may lack the formality, intentionality is still the key. Large or small, ask yourself these questions regularly:
- Can every leader in my organization identify one or more competencies that each of their employees is actively developing? Every employee, not just some. And not just hard skills – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have soft skills to be working on.
- Is every person in the organization aware of what they lack in order to be ready for a greater role? That may require some tough conversations, but good leaders accept that responsibility and do it gracefully. What’s limiting someone’s success should never be a secret from them.
Remember that your success as a leader is measured by the success of those you lead.
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