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Hit the Pause Button: Slow Down to Speed Up Development

The Challenge

13613179_sHow can leaders find time to develop people on the job with the crazy crush of 24/7 pressure for results? The answer is counter intuitive: not to act more quickly, but to pause more to slow down to go fast.

A Solution

Kevin Cashman, in his new book, “The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward”, offers a process for switching out habits
– From just doing more, faster
– To learning to do differently.

We’re glad to see this advice on record. It is sorely needed. Leaders tell us the biggest barrier to using the practices of exceptional development managers, is that they cannot get off the treadmill (set at maximum speed) to take the small, powerful steps that lead to development of people on the job.

Tips for Application

The exceptional development managers we researched had already figured out how to get around that barrier. They paused with perfection, getting great development and results simultaneously. Here’s what they do, that other managers can adopt:

  1. They periodically pause during each month, stepping back to create next-in-line goals for people. Goals that both advance performance results and provide the room and requirement for development. With goals “pulling on” the development, it stays top of mind, leading to recognizing more opportunities to learn. The outcome: better, faster development.
  2. They go for the pause when asking employees thought provoking questions. This gives people ample time to reflect and “go deep” to figure out the implications of their answers. Learning becomes richer as a result as both manager and employee have more substance that in turn serves as a basis for more questioning, and more learning.
  3. They pause by regularly “going to the balcony” and surveying the overall environment. They ask themselves questions such as: “Am I creating a climate that supports development in its very DNA? Is it really okay to learn from failure in my department? Have I created enough trust that people will pay attention to my feedback? They may only spend 15 minutes every couple of days doing this, but it magnifies and multiplies the right climate for development. Something that works much better than waiting for a major initiative to pump up the developmental strength of the environment.

Without these pauses, leaders and people they manage will miss out on the important, high value, fleeting moments that may seem insignificant. But, in accumulation, it is these very little things that mean a lot and add up to a powerful strategy for continuous individual and team development.

Parting Words

Richard Lieder, commenting on Kevin Cashman’s book says, “Leaders, like so many others, are suffering from hurry sickness—always going somewhere, never being anywhere.” For leaders who truly want to be exceptional at developing people, we recommend the Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward as a prescription for slowing down, listening, recognizing developmental moments and partnering with employees, often and in short conversations. All of which truly makes every day a development day.