How you can help people realise their potential

| November 28, 2019

The expectations of employees have changed; the role of performance management continues to evolve with some organisations now removing their traditional annuals review process and replacing these with regular coaching conversations. Employee expectations are influencing this shift; they want more frequent insightful feedback and less formal traditional performance management meetings. Agile working practices are now standard within many organisations, and management practices are changing and will continue to.

Coaching beyond managing is a skill that all leaders will need to cultivate and master. These skills can help managers better serve those that report into them. They will help deliver bigger and better outcomes while improving the culture within the team. Leaders approach your management responsibilities with the intent of serving the person. How?

  1. Avoid offering advice  

The advice somebody can offer is limited to their experiences; the questions they can ask are unlimited. Try not to give advice. Further, those who provide advice don’t realise that people often receive as a perspective rather than what is most suitable to them. You may talk about your experiences and empathise with someone however above ending the sentence with – now this is what you should do!

  1. Be genuine  

Some people endeavour to cultivate close professional relationships; however, sometimes these are disingenuous, and people distance themselves. Either consciously, or most likely subconsciously. It’s probably due to a lack of authenticity from a person, or an intention behind that person’s interaction. As a result, people are less open and vulnerable; they are not the best version of themselves. It is a pity for everyone when this happens. People know when something or somebody is fake, and they will not share what they are honestly thinking. Therefore, the opportunities that offer the diversity of thought remain unrealised.

  1. Understand the person and not the work  

Start your conversations by asking how people they are, not what has been happening. Their response should direct you to the next question or statement; with a focus on talking about them and not about something. Early on, when establishing the relationship, remind people of what Steve Jobs said at Stanford; ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future’. Make it a priority to understand the person.

  1. What stage is the career?  

There is a time in life for education, for gaining experience, and for harvesting. If somebody strives for one before the other, it is likely it will erode their potential. Manager’s play a role in helping someone understand where they are at; encouraging an individual’s thought and reflection. The benefit is clarity and mitigation of the temptation to rush things. If somebody rushes, things will likely unravel later. Also, not everything can be harvested. Some capabilities will not have currency, i.e. somebody knows a lot about the fax machine, they are technically component, but this is not current. Technical currency is what is or will be relevant for the upcoming period. How does somebody know when they are capable of harvesting? They can transition to a new industry by bringing capability. What are their capabilities that have currency? How could they be harvested within your organisation, beyond your immediate area?

  1. The best version of themselves 

The answers to the best version of somebody is within. You can help by asking the right questions; coaching facilitates this. Encourage somebody to learn from others; however, remind them it may not be best to copy. Copying takes a lot of energy and is not genuine, and people immediately know when somebody is fake. Their greatest strength is that nobody else is like them. Encourage people to be the best version of themselves and support them as they strive to this.

  1. Cultivate interests

Discover their interests. What are the five to ten things that make them great? Why are these things important to them? How can this passion be cultivated? Many people now share their professional interests online, does this person have a domain, a www address that is home for their professional interests? Could they be building a community? How could they be sharing these things; by blogging or videoing? If they wish, encourage them to create a platform that they can connect with a community. Communities refine and evolve ideas resulting in greater relevance. Many large organisations are poorly connected with the broader community and not as relevant as they could be. People, through their professional platforms, can humanise their organisation.

On occasions, be prepared to explore and adjust either your and an individual’s expectations, this is part of evolving and growing the relationship. Be mindful of not overly emphasising the objectives of your role; their role exists to contribute yours. Through applying the six points above; we serve the individual and the organisation in meeting goals in a more meaningful manner, enabling the potential of the person. In turn, this person is likely to adopt the approach creating ripples of other’s realising their potential.