Today’s business leaders understand the importance of growing their people. They know that with so many demands on everyone’s time, employees won’t acquire the knowledge and skills needed to move the company forward unless management makes people development a strategic priority.
Accordingly, smart leaders take the time to set clear performance expectations with each person they manage. They review performance on an ongoing basis. And they devise action steps to develop the appropriate knowledge, skills and competencies for each position.
But what about your own growth and development? Do you leave it to chance or do you engage in a similar process with yourself?
When working with clients, I recommend a quarterly self-review process that involves asking a series of questions designed to help leaders assess what they have learned over the previous three months, how they are doing compared to their stated goals, and how they can improve their performance going forward. The result is a personal development scorecard that offers a quick and easy way to assess your own performance while identifying areas to enhance your leadership and people management skills.
What questions should you ask?
The Short View
The short view focuses on what you have learned during the most recent quarter. Ask yourself:
- How have I stayed focused on key strategic goals?
- How much progress did I make toward my destination?
- What didn’t work and why?
- Which of my assumptions do I need to challenge or change?
- How did I overcome any barriers?
- Knowing what I know now, what could I have done differently?
The Long View
The long view identifies patterns and trends you noticed during the past several quarters. These can be especially valuable in identifying areas where you seem to be stuck or making little progress.
- How do my current competency, skill or knowledge levels compare with three months ago? One year ago?
- How are my abilities helping me get to my destination?
- Am I enjoying the journey?
- What progress over the last year can I feel good about?
- What challenges keep arising?
- What underlying beliefs do I need to change in order to resolve these challenges?
The context examines how your actions relate to factors in the environment. Here you start to look at what you can change that will improve your ability to achieve results through others.
- What around me, such as people, tools and process, is helping me perform at my best?
- What people or situations do I handle best?
- What people or situations present the toughest challenge for me?
- What are the common elements among those people or situations?
- If I change my underlying beliefs about them, how would it help?
- What can I do differently in the future? Am I willing to do that?
To be effective, a personal development scorecard must be employed once a quarter without exception. If too much time elapses between the self-reviews, it can be hard to spot trends, patterns and causal relationships.
To make it easier to follow through on a consistent basis:
- Make a firm appointment with yourself. Set up a year’s worth of personal development scorecard meetings and write them in ink on your calendar. They don’t have to be lengthy – a 15 minute pause can work.
- Keep a brief learning journal. Writing down your learning in some sort of organized fashion helps you to keep perspective, remember lessons and demonstrate your progress. Highlight the key points in bullet fashion, adding minimal detail where necessary. The longer and more detailed the journal, the less likely you will be to keep up with it.
- Make it personally meaningful. This is your personal record; don’t worry about how others do it.
- Have fun with it. A personal development scorecard doesn’t have to be a formal or lengthy process. Make it something you look forward to and enjoy.
- Track the most important lessons. For example, keep a running list of the 10 most important things you need to remember to remain focused, or a list of your prioritized competencies, skills and knowledge areas.
- Don’t overlook the positive. Note your accomplishments and give yourself credit for making progress in key areas.
One of your key roles as a leader is to guide and direct your employees’ professional development. You’ll be a lot more effective when you take the time to direct your own growth as well and it will speak volumes to others about how critical it is to ongoing success.