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Developing People

"You are either on the bus, in front of the bus, or behind the bus." Anonymous

One of the most difficult and crucial competencies of an effective leader is selecting the right people, placing them in the proper roles, and then coaching them for performance and development. As an Executive Coach I see leaders struggle with this competency more than any other. In this and future issues of The Journal, we will discuss an effective framework for on-boarding the right people, placing them in the right seats, and coaching them for development and active engagement.


The first step toward building an actively engaged workforce that produces extraordinary results will always be the selection of the right people. Take the time and put forth the effort to hire trustworthy people. A trustworthy person is one who can be trusted for his character and his competence. Trust of character means you can trust the integrity, and the intent or motives of that person; trust of competence means you can trust his abilities and the results he produces. Doing the job right at the beginning of the process takes more time but will save you headaches in the long run.

Create clear expectations and agreements about who, what, when, where, why, and how the job or task is to be accomplished. An unclear and “fuzzy” agreement contributes to mistrust and false assumptions, which is a bad start to a relationship. The next step is to train and equip her with the necessary resources to get the job done. Finally, step back and allow her to do the job, while you continue to observe her performance. If she is successful, remember to give positive reinforcement, and consider giving her additional responsibilities. If not, then coach her for performance and development.

After coaching, always restate the expectations and make no assumptions. Making assumptions at the beginning of the process may have contributed to the performance problem. Next,  make a  new agreement answering the   questions  who, 

what, when, where, why, and how. Give additional training if needed, then step back and allow her another opportunity. Observe her performance, and if necessary give additional coaching for performance and development. If she is successful, always give positive reinforcement to build sustainability into the behaviors and results you want.

If the person is still not producing the desired result, then as the coach you need to look in the mirror and examine yourself before proceeding to the next steps. Have you set clear expectations? Have you provided the resources and training? Have you done the right coaching? Give him another opportunity to succeed after examining yourself and your leadership. If you change yourself and your approach, many times you will find the person will respond and produce the results you desire.

Now comes the hard part, where many leaders struggle. If the person has the right character but lacks the abilities or skills then consider moving him to a different role in the organization. If the person lacks both the character and the skills to produce the results then the decision is clear: remove him from the organization or team. Do not just move the problem to another area. This decision is not fair to the person or the organization.

Focus on the people and extraordinary results will be the fruit of the process. Select people who are trustworthy, create clear expectations, train and equip, empower them to act, coach, and give positive reinforcement. And, don’t forget the hard part; move them to another role if they are not producing the  desired result, and as the last resort, do not hesitate to remove them from the organization. Exercising the discipline to follow this process will contribute to the development of actively engaged people who will drive results.


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