Tag Archives: development assessment

Developmental Dialogue

Building upon the helpful model of experiential learning in the last blog is the leadership skill of facilitating a developmental dialogue. Such a dialogue is vital to nurturing learning in others and leading with a developmental bias.

Although it is difficult to find these principles applied between Jesus and the disciples, they can be seen in the early church. In Acts 6 with the appointment of deacons and in Acts 15 when the Jerusalem Council mandated a few essential practices for new converts, there was a developmental dialogue so agreed upon practices could be performed.

Every person accepting a role or task would benefit by knowing the answers to these questions from her/his supervisor:

  1. What am I tasked to do? (responsibility)
  2. What does it look like when the task is done well? (expectations)
  3. How can I get help when needed? (support)
  4. How will I know if I am on track? (feedback)

Once there is agreement concerning the responsibility (hopefully with outcomes as clear as possible) along with access to the support and resources available, there can be ongoing dialogue to ensure both success for the project and satisfaction for the leader. A wise leader and worker will embrace, yes, even demand such a dialogue.

In modern terms and processes, consider the benefits of these conversations:

1. Discuss the job description and primary outcomes for which you agree to be held accountable. Seek to differentiate the major responsibilities (big rocks) from those that might be easy and helpful but are not determinative for success. Seek to understand the scope of responsibility (including what not to focus upon) and the authority given to hopefully accomplish the task.  Many a leader has regretfully learned after accepting a responsibility that there was little or no accompanying authority and frustration resulted.

2. Negotiate what success would look like in a way that requires faith but is not presumptuous. Tasks that require faith both please God and stretch the leader. Faith can be seen as something that is out of reach but not out of sight—you know you cannot accomplish the task without God’s active involvement but you are not presuming upon God to engage in a way that is not promised.  Either the leader or the supervisor can lack faith and both need to agree to something more honoring to God.  As much as is possible, picture and articulate what the final and intermediate outcomes look like.  Once agreed upon, milestones can be a powerful guide to monitor progress.

3. Honestly share where you are competent and where you would benefit from development. No one is omni-competent. There is no shame in admitting from self-awareness where you have developed strengths for your task and where you lack the skill and confidence to effectively serve.  Then prioritize developmental opportunities to grow.  Positioning yourself for success honors God and brings enriching satisfaction.

It is easy to assume the good intentions of a supervisor and easier yet to avoid awkward questions. However, the best time to establish a commitment to mutual understanding is when beginning a new role or assuming new responsibility.  Initiate developmental dialogues with those whom you serve and with those to whom you report.

Next blog: Feedback & Assessment


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Leader Development Gathering

This past week (June 10-13) on The Navigator’s Glen Eyrie campus over 130 leaders along with a few guests converged for an annual developmental experience.  Why do we put such effort and expense into bringing leaders together?  How many times have we all gone to a gathering and when it finishes we leave with a positive feeling and even a few new insights?  However, weeks or perhaps months later, we are hard pressed to remember anything of substance let alone any change in our behavior.  Is the effort and cost invested worth the results?

Unfortunately, I find few people willing to even entertain such a question.  If an organization releases budget for a gathering and the location, content, and participants make it mildly attractive, many leaders will attend.  How can organizational leaders committed to good stewardship of resources be satisfied with little or no post-gathering assessment?

Articles by training magazines and associations tell of budgets in the hundreds of million dollars spent on training and development every year.  Few organizations can substantiate any significant positive behavioral or organizational change from such expenditures.  We have learned to expect such lack of accountability from our government but if we are honest this practice has infiltrated our organizations.  We can and must do better when we are doing so for our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

No one has influenced the arena of thinking on training assessment more than the late Donald Kirkpatrick (http://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com).  His Four Levels of training evaluation created in the late 50’s is so simple yet so very neglected:

1) Reaction: Here organizers seek to discern to what degree participants react favorably to the training.  Often a final evaluation asks questions to affirm that people left “feeling” good.
2) Learning: Here organizers seek to assess to what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment based on their participation in a training event.  In almost every gathering participants will get some fresh idea.

Rarely do training events go beyond these first two arenas of evaluation.  The result is that organizers assess the worth of the training based on feelings and some knowledge gained.  I am reminded of the verse in James 1:22 where readers are exhorted to not settle for feeling and hearing, “But prove yourselves to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”  If individual leaders and organizational trainers have a proper sense of stewardship of their time and funds they will never be satisfied with just these two easy means of evaluation.
3) Behavior: Wise organizers will assess to what degree participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.  Now this takes effort, time, and expense.  No wonder few organizations invest in such post event assessment.
4) Results: Wise organizations want to assess to what degree the targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.  The most powerful results are those that facilitate a critical mass of leaders making behavioral change so that organizational culture changes in ways consistent with strategic initiatives.

This is our fourth Leader Development Institute and we have progressively enhanced our approach to training so to engage participants with different learning styles and provide time for processing foundational concepts.  Everyone will take time before leaving to complete an evaluation that assesses feeling and thinking but they will also be guided to reflect on personal behavioral change they sense to be needed.  Within a month all leaders will dialogue with their coach about what developmental goals are most relevant going forward and then have bi-weekly coaching conversations.  After six-months all participants will be sent a survey and asked what they remember and what behavior change has resulted.  We certainly can do better in our stewardship of these gatherings but we are moving in a good direction.

How well are you doing at seriously applying what you take time to learn?  Let us be doers!


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