As a manager what are the many ways you can help your team grow personally and professionally? We connected with Mark Hill, IBM Program Director for Development and Data Retention Infrastructure and his simple response was “I focus on my people”. Read on to find out how Mark does this successfully.
By Mark Hill
By far the best thing an employee can do for their career is to excel at their current job. Even if they are looking to move a different direction, coming from a place of strength is a tremendous advantage. As a manager, one of the biggest help you can give an employee is to enable them – listen to what they need, then try to give them the right environment. The environment certainly includes equipment and space, but also includes permission, support and encouragement.
(L-R: Corrina Sheret receiving an award from manager Mark Hill)
Part of my responsibility as a manager is to foster the careers and goals of my team members, which is an exciting aspect of being a people manager. I have been in multiple roles as a manager, including being a manager of managers.
The importance of personal interaction
IBM has had several different programs and methods of fostering people in their career growth. However, it always comes down to a personal interaction with your team. Nobody is ever perfect in this situation, but if the intent is there to really help a person grow, the employee appreciates the work and the time spent. Every employee is at a different stage in life and has different requirements, so feedback is deeply individualized and personal. I’ve been in environments with people who think just like me. When there is an issue, we tend to come to the same conclusion on direction. I find it much more rewarding when someone comes up with a different idea that makes me rethink the problem, and a further discussion ensues. In my experience, this has led to a much better overall direction than either of us had originally planned and this is what I do as a manager for my team, fostering my team members by providing useful feedback for them to grow.
Encouraging diverse perspectives
Creating a supportive environment and then hearing individual feedback are important components in supporting diversity and richness in a team. Having a focus on diverse opinions, diverse viewpoints and diverse strategies is important, and creating an environment where this is valued is important for the long term success of any organization. In my career I have tried to pay special attention to minority opinions and viewpoints and encouraged people from other walks of life to speak up and to be assigned to significant assignments so that a broader spectrum of solutions can be proposed for any particular problem. This may also stretch certain people beyond what they thought they could accomplish. If employees handle this environment with respect, then deeper insights can be gained and better direction and favorable business results can be achieved.
Are you a manager and have you experienced growth and development in your team resulting from your efforts? What method did you employ and what was the result? Share with us on the comments section so we can engage our readers in an active discussion about career turning points.
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