Don’t Tell Me What To Do

In the world of management, one of the things we often hear is “there’s a difference between training and development.” Understanding and living this in the handling of performance is one of the most difficult things to do. I still struggle with that boundary from time to time. It is hard to know exactly where training stops and development begins because sometimes the line is pretty thin.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Training is about showing someone how to do something they don’t already know how to do. Refreshers and retraining can wander into the grey area where training and development overlap. However, what keeps those in the training zone is lack of proficiency or consistency in performance. Where there is no proficiency or consistency in performance, there is no real development.  All the focus is on getting performance to standard, not on growth. And development is all about growth.

Development is about showing someone how to do better at something they’re already doing well. Development is about helping someone become better. It is about identifying potential and talent for enrichment and succession.

Development is not telling a person what to do. It’s not giving the answers — development is teaching the person to think and act to advance the goals of the business, which in the process will also advance the individual.

If you are telling people what to do in the name of “development“, you’re doing it wrong. So stop. Right now.

Start asking questions instead.

  • What? As in “what do you think you should do to solve this.” Future leaders must be action-oriented, problem-solvers.
  • How? As in “how are you going to do that.” Future leaders must be able to create steps to success.
  • Why? As in “why do you think this is the best solution.” Future leaders must be willing to explain themselves and be accountable for their decisions.

Development goes beyond training. It requires you be committed to teaching the other person to work with autonomy and accountability. It requires you help the person become a leader and gain expertise in their function. It means letting the other person give the answers and providing guidance only as needed.

It is NOT telling the person what to do or how to do it. That’s not development … It’s a waste of time — yours and theirs.

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