I once had a manager who would leave notes on my desk that said "see me." They were terrifying. Was I in trouble? Did something go wrong? Was she in a bad mood?
We would go weeks without talking, so the notes were always a surprise.
Ding, ding. Weeks without talking.
Because she didn't proactively schedule check-ins, we were rarely on the same page. Yes, it was flattering that she trusted me to go forth and do my job, but our lack of meetings meant we lacked a personal connection, which meant we weren't on the same page about my work output or how I was doing personally.
In between a packed calendar of meetings, conference calls and emails, fire fighting and to do lists, many leaders forget (or don't prioritize) their people.
And prioritizing people is a simple talent solution that will help with succession planning, calibration meetings, recruitment, promotion cycles, and all the other talent development stuff that seems daunting and time consuming and low priority. Because when people are put first, you find out how they feel. You connect on a personal level. You get to know them, which makes calibration conversations more truthful, goal setting easier, and leadership development more impactful.
Think of all the things that can be found out when people are put first, instead of all the work and all the results:
Results first: Come to work, put your head down, get all the things done, and do them right the first time. I'll check in with an email when there's a problem or if I need something. People first: What's on your plate this week? What are you worried about? How can I help? What can I do to help you feel successful this week?
Results first: Put everything you're doing on this team spreadsheet. Update it weekly. Speak up in the weekly team meeting to report on your metrics, both good and bad, and listen to me tell you all what should be done next. People first: Take a look at this cool project Lewis is working on. Did you hear about Kim's big win last week? Let's put our heads together and figure out a solution to this process that's bugging all of us.
Results first: What happened? Why did you do this wrong? I can't believe this happened. Fix it. People first: Let's talk through what went wrong. What do you think should be done? How can we work together to fix it? Who should be looped in?
Think of all the things that are felt when people are put first. I am valued. My success matters. Who I am matters.
Putting people first is a special ingredient in the world of talent planning. You can go through the motions of talent programs - participate in succession planning, sign your people up for the mentor program, invest in that day-long training - and on paper those programs will look great. But on the inside (of your team and company) employees will know it's a show.
Which means they'll eventually leave you, either physically (for another job) or mentally (by being disengaged). And then you'll need an even bigger talent solution.