We all see the world through our own lens, our own paradigm. In his famed book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey asserts that we cannot just look through this lens – we must look at it. His hope for the readers is that learning and practicing these habits will provide them with the correct lens to see the world.
I have been a part of the talent development space for over 4 years. Between the industry content and the conversations I have with clients, 7 Habits crops up half a dozen times a year. My reasons for reading this book were twofold: 1) to become more effective and 2) to better understand this industry. Rather than pontificating on my own shortcomings, I’ll focus on the parts that relate best to the talent development space in this Resolution Reflections Blog.
Covey implores that you read the book with the purpose of sharing what you’re learning with someone else within 48 hours after you read it. If you’re thinking of changing your role shortly from student to teacher, you’ll remember the material better. In all training we participate in, we should enter with this idea in mind. We would then retain more information and reinforce it through subsequent conversations.
Mission, Vision and Values
Do the members of your organization know your mission statement? Were they involved in creating it? “Without involvement, there is no commitment.” Not every member of every organization can help craft your mission, vision and values, but you can give them a voice. Every employee should be empowered to have a dialogue about your mission, vision and values. Get them involved early, at orientation if you can, so they will be committed.
When delegating, focus on results instead of the methods to get there. Requisite to delegation is the “capacity to want to manage, not just to produce.” Many leaders can get things done quicker than their direct reports. Instead, they should get involved in the training and development of their people. Spending the time up front means you’ll see the value later.
Covey tells a client story about a time he helped revamp a rotational program. Instead of going with the original framework, they defined specific objectives and the criteria for measuring whether those objectives were met. Then they told the learners, “Here are the resources, including learning from each other.” The learners were promoted months sooner than in the prior program. We shouldn’t be afraid to tear down a program we’ve built. We also need to remember that alumni of programs or even current learners can be a valuable resource for feedback and ideas.
Rewards and Penalties
In terms of performance management (Covey goes into detail about "Win/Win performance agreements”), there are four kinds of rewards and penalties that management controls:
Remember, training and development is an opportunity that talent development professionals provide to management and employees. It should be a part of the performance management process.
Balance in Renewal
You have probably heard of Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw, even if you haven’t read the book. The self-renewal process is about preserving and enhancing yourself by balancing the four dimensions of human nature: spiritual, physical, social and mental. Covey says this holds true for organizations, once you think of the physical dimension as economic. In his consulting work, he’s found many organizations that do a good job of renewing and balancing three – “they may have good service criteria, good economic criteria, and good human relations criteria, but they are not really committed to identifying, developing, utilizing, and recognizing the talent of people.” Does your organization balance all four? How good of a job are you doing on the mental/psychological front?
The point of reading 7 Habits is to change. In the book, you’ll learn that “change – real change – comes from the inside out.” The same is true for organizations. When you’re going through a change, you must get buy-in throughout the organization. Only then will you see commitment and behavioral change.
If you haven’t read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I highly recommend it. You will go through a process of self-examination unlike ever before. In learning more about yourself, you’re far more prepared to interact and communicate with others. The goal is to form interdependent relationships with others, so the sum of each relationship is greater than its parts.
I’ve read the book and my journey has just begun.
If you’ve read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on my talent development takeaways. Please share additional thoughts, too, whether related to talent development or not.
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