10 February 2020

Nicola O’Neill has a Q&A with IITD on Development Conversations

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Our Managing Director, Nicola O’Neill, recently sat down with the IITD for a Q&A around Development Conversations.

Q: How can we improve the development conversations that our managers are having with team members, we get generic outputs as opposed to meaningful development initiatives?

A: This is a very important and familiar question that needs attention, the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report 2019 cited that the number one reason people leave organisations is because of the lack of development opportunities. High quality development conversations are a must in the toolkit of high impact leaders.

  • Educate and upskill your managers on how to have development conversations. At Harvest we don’t promote scripts, but you do need to train your mangers on the principles of good development conversations such as: never allow the question “What training do you need/want?” – be part of the vocabulary. Provide questions to assist with a meaningful probing, such as:
  1. What skills and knowledge will make a difference in achieving your objectives?
  2. What will it look like when you have achieved your learning goal? What will you be doing, saying, demonstrating that is different?
  3. What are the best ways to learn and build on those skills? (combine 70/20/10 methods)
  4. What resources, support and feedback to you need from me (your line manager) to succeed?
  • Hot off the press is the latest research from DCU and the IITD “Enabling the Workforce of the Future” cited (among many interesting findings) that there is strong evidence that the ownership of learning has shifted, where the learners are driving their own learning. So, it is very important that development conversations and activities take this into account
  • The 70-20-10 model of learning (Centre for Creative Leadership) describes the main ways in which people learn vital skills and behaviours as part of their careers. An impactful Learning & Development Plan would contain elements of each of the three categories in terms of activities. It would be useful to provide a list of example development initiatives, such as: shadowing, coaching, exposure to new experiences outside their comfort zone, special projects aimed at developing new skills, ongoing feedback from stakeholders and line manager and so on. Be aware that the percentages are shifting, particularly the 20% In addition, regardless of the intervention, and this was cited by Dr. Paul Donovan in his recent research, that the learning mainly comes from the reflective practice and de-brief that takes place, so continuously reviewing learning is also a must.
  1. What was your biggest learning for the year?
  2. What was the best piece of feedback you got?
  3. What was the toughest piece of feedback you got?
  4. What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?


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