Helping the blind to see

A colleague recently shared that she was in the office of a new client, a gentleman who was legally blind. On his bookshelf she spotted a copy of The Big Book of HR. She shared that she knew us and asked him how he was enjoying the book. We were delighted to hear that he responded positively.

Of course, that led us to wonder how he was reading the book. Our colleague explained that he had special technology for the visually impaired that allowed him to enlarge document fonts so he can see the words.

What can organizations do to help the blind to see? No, I’m not referring to what reasonable accommodations you can make to enable the visually impaired to perform their essential job functions. Rather I am referring to the systems, tools and processes in place to:

· Develop managers and provide them with the people management skills they need to be successful
· Develop employees and provide them the opportunity to grow
· Guide employees through difficult performance issues

Most managers have good technical skills. That’s why they were promoted in the first place, right? But when it comes to people management, are they prepared to:

· Provide career development support to their employees?
· Provide effective feedback?
· Resolve problems and conflicts?
· Provide recognition and motivation?

Many managers, new and old alike, don’t understand that these are the things they signed up for when they took that promotion. They don’t understand that part of their role is to coach and mentor employees to help them excel. They don’t understand the distinction between coaching (enabling learning and development to improve performance) and mentoring (helping another person to make significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking).

Most employees don’t leave an organization. They leave their manager. Your employees may be asking:

· Do I know what’s expected of me?
· Do I have the resources to do my job?
· Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best and am passionate about?
· Do I receive praise or recognition frequently?
· Is my professional development encouraged?

Being good at a given discipline or being a good task master is not enough to be a successful manager. Possessing interpersonal skills, or being willing to develop them, is key. But managers don’t develop in a vacuum. They need support from human resources and the organization. They need to be developed. In addition to employee development, successful organizations have management development in place.

Most organizations have some sot of performance management system or process to address workplace behaviors gone awry. But these policies, systems and processes are not owned by Human Resources and they are only as good as the managers who use them. Do you train your managers how to use the internal resources available to them? That should be part of your management development program.

Indeed, The Big Book of HR discusses many of these issues (coaching, development, performance management, workplace behavior). It can be an excellent resource to complement your management training.


Keywords: coaching, employee development, performance management, workplace behavior, mentoring, management development

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Managing people is the most challenging part of any leader's day. And that job certainly is not getting any easier. The Big Book of HR will provide any HR professional, manager, or business owner of any size organization the information they need to get the most from their talent. It is filled with information on everything from the most strategic HR-related issues to the smallest tactical detail of how to manage people.