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What are the Manager’s Responsibilities for Developing Subordinates?

Isn’t development the responsibility of the individual? What are the manager’s responsibilities for developing subordinates?

The manager has six key responsibilities for the development of subordinates:

1. Identify key individual and organization development needs.

2. Coach the subordinate’s selection of areas for developmental concentration.

3. Coach the subordinate’s construction of a development plan.

4. Bless the plan/fund the plan.

5. Create developmental opportunities.

6. Follow up to ensure successful execution.

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1. Identify key individual and organizational development needs. Although the individual is primarily responsible for his or her own development, the manager needs to be able to recommend areas for consideration. These include both development needs the manager sees in the individual, and opportunities within the manager’s work unit where an increase in competence will enhance organizational effectiveness.

2. Coach the subordinate’s selection of areas for developmental concentration. The manager needs to recommend—sometimes strongly—that developmental attention be paid to some areas first.

3. Coach the subordinate’s construction of a development plan. The most common mistakes that people make in creating development plans is to make them too big and too general. The manager needs to communicate the value of specificity and the importance of short-term, low goals. Requesting examples or asking questions such as, ‘‘How will you actually do that?’’ and ‘‘When do you think you’ll have that done?’’ can be extremely helpful in creating a specific and workable plan.

4. Bless the plan/fund the plan. The responsibility for developing a systematic, logical plan is the subordinate’s, not the boss’s. The manager’s appropriate role is first to bless the plan: to review it, ask questions, make suggestions for improvements, and provide counsel and advice. The boss’s other responsibility is to fund the plan—to provide whatever resources are needed for the approved plan to be carried out.

5. Create developmental opportunities. The best way to create developmental opportunities is to provide the subordinate with challenging work, ongoing feedback on performance, and recognition for task accomplishment.

6. Follow up to ensure successful execution. The manager needs to hold individual team members responsible for successful completion of their development plans, just as the manager holds them accountable for successful completion of all other job duties.