Ask Them to Be a Buddy
The first is to give them a buddy role. If you have new employees and need someone to buddy up with them, it could be the perfect opportunity to make the most of someone performing well.
And by being someone’s buddy, your high-performer will be developing almost by stealth because it will help them understand what it’s like for a new person coming into the organisation.
‘By being someone’s buddy, your high-performer will be developing almost by stealth’
Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to understand that a process needs changing or things need to be done differently, and also when your organisation is doing something cool. That’s where a buddy role can help to develop.
Ask Them to Be a Mentor
You can also ask your high-performing employee to mentor an existing employee rather than a new person coming in. Again, there are many benefits to being a mentor, not just a mentee, in terms of development. Mentoring differs from coaching, but a mentor needs to hone coaching skills, like
- Asking coaching-style questions
- Supporting a mentee to find solutions rather than jumping in with the answers
- Opening up your networks for a mentee to talk to others.
‘There are lots of benefits to being a mentor, not just a mentee, in terms of developing’
Discuss the Future
Another quite effective strategy is to introduce the subject of the future at the next team gathering. It might be a big team meeting, compliance training, or any event that brings everybody together. Open a discussion about how much the world has changed and what that means for the future of the business.
One way to do that is to put pictures up around the walls of your meeting room of things that don’t exist anymore. You could look at things over the last five, 10 or 15 years or even just the last 12 months.
For example, a Nintendo Gameboy, a Walkman, the old black and green monitors we used to have before PCs, and even newer things like Blackberries. Those images around the walls can spark discussion on how much the world has changed quickly and continues to change. Twelve months ago, we weren’t talking about ChatGPT!
This leads to the question of what all this change means for you. Sometimes it can help people to reframe. It may prompt them to think more about their own development. They may have resisted making a development plan that includes training courses and skill development. But if they’re not continually trying to learn and understand what’s happening in the world, they may fall behind and lose skills and their ability to market themselves in the employment workplace.
Ask Them to Present a Topic
Another strategy I’ve seen work well is to ask everybody to read a book and then present that topic to the rest of the team, perhaps quarterly or at the next team meeting. People who don’t enjoy reading, or don’t have time to read, can just pick a topic they feel passionate about; it can be about anything.
I once had a team member do a presentation about recycling and how important it was. It could be any passion project. Having to teach or explain something to others inspires us to get into the content and learn about it. When you know you need to teach or try to explain a concept to other people, you naturally want to ensure you have accurate information to offer them.
Give Them a Chance to Apply Their Skills
Linda Murray is an awesome coach and leadership facilitator from the Athena Leadership Academy. She’s been running that business for over 20 years, and recently she spoke on my other podcast, Make it Work, about upskilling.
Linda said that if someone claims they can’t develop or learn any more, perhaps their mind is just ‘full’; and you need to look at that as an application issue rather than a learning one. Maybe they’re so ‘full’ because they’ve learned things they have not had a chance to apply yet.
‘ Maybe they’re so ‘full’ because they’ve learned things they have not had a chance to apply yet.’
I liked that idea because it relates to our unconscious competence. Think about getting into a car. Everything you do, from closing the door to putting on your seatbelt, pressing the ignition button or turning the key, and putting your feet on the pedals, is all unconscious.
The same could be true of your employees. Perhaps they’ve learned lots of things, and they haven’t been able to apply them, and that’s why they’re saying, ‘No, I just can’t, I can’t fill up anymore’.