Monthly Archives: September 2011

Become Exceptional at Improving Human Performance

Make Talent Your Business: How Exceptional Managers Develop People While Getting Results By Wendy Axelrod and Jeannie Coyle. 2011: Published by Berrett-Kohler, 210 pages.

According to recent research, when most leaders are asked about the status of their employee development program, they are likely to express that it sits squarely in the “top 5” for importance, but shakes out to the bottom, both in investment and returns. How can we all realize better results in our employee development efforts, regardless of industry or company size?  Wendy Axelrod and Jeannie Coyle have given us a new way to consider this often overwhelming area that falls in the laps of HR managers, department managers and executives.  In their new title, Make Talent Your Business: How Exceptional Managers Develop People While Getting Results, Axelrod and Coyle guide us through a new process for employee development, which resulted from their combined 40+ years of experience and an extensive research project, where they enlisted over 100 representatives from companies of all sizes to gather information and find solutions for all of us.

And what is the underlying takeaway?  Use the work itself as a development tool. 

In the authors’ words, “Are we saying that the one thing that matters most is done the least? Yes. We believe that a major reason that using the work itself as a development tool is so rare is that managers simply don’t know how to package together work and development or how to put themselves in the picture every day to support development.” How can you make every day a development day?  Use these four approaches:

  1. Tuck development into work
  2. Create the right stretch
  3. Seize development moments
  4. Leverage team learning

The authors take readers through each approach and show us how to integrate them into every work day.  Although these approaches in themselves are worth putting to work right away, this book gets kudos for adding “toolkits” into each concept, giving leaders actual discussion guides for implementing the tasks within each approach.  They also show us ways to increase the value of many tools typically supplied by organizations, such as a 360-degree feedback tool and mandated number of classroom training hours per year.

Finally, have you considered which of your employees need to develop political skills or have you addressed the psychological side of development? It’s all covered here.

Reviewed by Marcia Young