5 Things You Must Know About Developing Employees

I think we try to deliver a message in organizations that all employees need and want to be developed.

This is a lie.

Many of our employees do want and need development. Some don’t need it; they’re better than you. Some don’t want it; just give me my check!

Too many of our leaders truly believe they can develop and make their employees better than they already are. This is a lot tougher than it sounds, and something most leaders actually fail at moving the needle on.

5 tips for leaders about employee development

Here are some things I like to share with my leaders in developing their employees:

Article Continues Below
  1. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” – Maya Angelou. I see too many leaders trying to change adult employees. Adult behaviors are basically locked in. If they show you they don’t want to work, they don’t want to work. Part of developing a strong relationship is spending time on people who are not a waste of time.
  2. People only change behavior they want to change, and even then, sometimes they’re not capable of it. See No. 1 above. When I was early in my career, I was very “passionate.” That’s what I liked calling it – passionate. I think the leaders I worked with called it “career derailer.” It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength was really a major weakness. Some people will never gain this kind of insight. They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate, when in reality, they’re really just an asshole.
  3. Don’t invest more in a person than they are willing to invest in themselves. I want you to be great. I want you to be the best employee we have ever had work here. You need to be a part of that. I’m willing to invest an immense amount of time and resources to help you reach your goals, but you have to meet me halfway, at least.
  4. It’s usually never the situation that’s pissing you off, it’s the mindset behind the situation that’s pissing you off. Rarely do I get upset over a certain situation. Frequently, I get upset over how someone has decided to handle that situation. Getting your employees to understand your level of importance concerning a situation is key to getting you both on the same page towards a solution. Failure to do this takes down a really disastrous path.
  5. Endeavor to look at disappointment with broader strokes. It’s all going to work out in the end. It’s hard for leaders to act disappointed. We are supposed to be strong and not show our disappointment. This often makes our employees feel like we aren’t human. The best leaders I’ve ever had showed disappointment, but with this great level of resolve that I admired. This sucks. We are all going to make it through this and be better. Disappointment might be the strongest developmental opportunity you’ll ever get as a leader, with your people.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.


Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


2 Comments on “5 Things You Must Know About Developing Employees

  1. Number three seems particularly important to me. Sometimes a young professional starts in a fairly broad role, and communication is crucial in order to ensure that the TYPE of investment is compatible with their interests and aspirations.



  2. Very thoughtful and thought provoking, thank you. However, I have seen too many bosses write off an employee, and the problem was not the employee, but the supervisor’s inability to manage people and relate to subordinates as human beings with feelings and hidden aspirations. It takes a skilled manager to assess potential and to draw out some employees. Because careful how quickly you toss aside an employee. A little professional development opportunity may do wonders for an employee’s self esteem and it could communicate an important message that the person is valued in the work place. I have not met many managers that adequately communicate that message to subordinates.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *