Watch for these clear signals to tell if your employee is open to growth
I’ve been delivering assessment results for years. I feel fortunate to be a part of so many milestone moments in a person’s development, whether it’s early in their career or someone who is a consummate learner. I have oodles of goosebumps stories that I’ve witnessed through these experiences. This week I enjoyed another of those moments.
A new job offers opportunity for learning
A long-time employee, let’s call her Emily, was moving into a new role within the same organization. Her manager, Carl (also not a real name), called me suggesting that she take an assessment. He wanted to figure out ways to help her.
We moved ahead, Emily completed the assessment and we scheduled a phone review with the three of us. Throughout the entire process, it was easy to tell that she was truly open to her own growth.
Signs that an employee is open to growth
There were several signals that indicated her openness. Looking for these signs will help you identify the folks on your team who are eager to learn.
When an employee hears that a manager wants to “help them improve” or “provide resources for development,” they can understandably feel concerned. They can start to think, “Something must be really wrong if I need help!” It’s easy to see how the employee might feel insecure or threatened. Even a simple conversation about “performance” can be intimidating. It’s like bringing out the magnifying glass to expose those hidden warts. Some people get defensive or shut down. Not Emily.
Carl had let Emily dip her toe into the waters of this new sales position, giving her a certain number of hours each week to devote to the role. That had been going on for a few months and the outcomes were mixed. In this new sales position, Emily had brought in one new client. It was a step in the right direction, but the manager had expected more within this time frame.
Emily and Carl got together and Carl explained that he needed to see better results in order to feel good about offering this position to her full-time. After all, he didn’t want Emily to fall short and be disappointed or out of her current job, which she did exceedingly well.
Employees demonstrate their openness with actions they take
When Emily heard about the opportunity to take the assessment, she completed it right away, the first sign that she was open to learning and growth. There was no resistance, no worry about what the results would say. She was eager to discuss.
We had scheduled an hour, but it was clear from the beginning of the call that we would need more time. She was actively asking questions, truly interested in how she could improve her outcomes. Another sign. She wasn’t going through the motions, or trying to get out this discussion at the earliest moment.
In this discussion between Emily, Carl, and myself, the dialogue was candid. Carl offered examples of things that hadn’t gone so well. It’s hard to hear those things about yourself, especially in front of your manager and an outside consultant. Emily never flinched. She understood that the intent was for her well-being, not to criticize or ridicule.
The discussion did spill over into a second session and Emily had already tried out some of the ideas we discussed in the previous call and came prepared with more questions. Someone who is committed to a plan will take action, enthusiastically!
Signs can be subtle but are visible
In a very short span of time, Emily had exhibited several obvious signs of her desire to grow:
- No resistance, hesitation, or defensiveness
- Wanted more time than what was allocated
- Fully engaged in conversation, not just going through the motions
- Actively asking questions
- Recognized the time and effort was for her best interest
- Took action without any prodding
Emily’s mindset will ultimately create success for her and her organization. If your team members are not motivated to learn and grow, it stifles them and others. Lucky for me, I find that most people do want to enhance their effectiveness. They recognize that by building skills, they feel better and are less stressed.
Working with Emily and Carl — and many people with similar qualities — is the reason I love my work so much. It is incredibly inspiring to be around people who are open and driven to constantly seek better ways to work. We can all be better. And it is a pleasure to be reminded of that in my interactions with so many of you.
What have you done lately that signals your willingness to grow?
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