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Personal development: How to get your manager involved

2017-10-11

By: Kamy Anderson

When we hear "personal development," the first thing that usually comes to mind is self-improvement. However, personal development is more targeted than that. It's the process of becoming aware of opportunities, then enhancing your skills to reach more success.

Related: Be productive—7 ways to use time more wisely

Personal development can help you achieve your goals and promote a healthy working environment for your team. This has helped many businesses attract more qualified candidates and retain more motivated employees. But for personal development plans to really work, managers must be invested in the process.

Why are managers important for self-growth?

Guiding & sharing the workload

Good management is key to running a successful business. Success depends on a team's efficiency, dedication and motivation. No matter how good you are, you can't carry the full workload by yourself. From recruiting to finance, design to development, sales to marketing, there's a lot of ground to cover. So, managers allocate assignments to qualified individuals, providing support when needed, then track all the moving pieces to guide each project to completion.

Maintaining relationships & motivation

The relationships managers have with their team members play an important role in employee motivation. A recent study showed the importance of supportive management. The study asked 61 financial managers to assess their improvement and the support of their managers during the development process.

The result? Only 33% percent of those who had unsupportive managers felt any sort of improvement. On the other hand, an astonishing 74% of those with supportive managers said they felt substantial improvement. Having supportive managers leads to better performance and better results. [Tweet this ]

So why are some managers not supportive or involved?

Fear of starting fires

Being a manager requires in-depth knowledge on multiple subjects, which, to the new manager, can feel quite intimidating. They have to handle a variety of situations in a timely manner (often called "putting out fires"), and the whole outcome depends on their response.

Some managers believe that if they distance themselves as much as possible and enforce rigid policies, these things are less likely to happen. But that leads to a lack of supportive communication, which in turn stifles growth.

Focus on hard power

Some managers just don't think they're supposed to be supportive. Instead, they believe their power and authority will be diminished if they appear to be soft and caring. That is a big misconception which leads to fear, rigidity and an unhealthy work environment. These managers mistakenly focus on appearance rather than their employees' well-being, and it shows when employees burn out, leave or become bitter workers.

Lack of motivation and work-related satisfaction

Managers are employees, too. Some feel they aren't appreciated enough, or that they aren't reaching their full potential. This usually happens due to a failure to recognize and reward their performance. Most people who work hard expect some sort of recognition or appreciation in return. If that fails to happen, they start feeling like no one cares, which often leads to worse performance.

How to motivate your manager to get more involved

Educate them about why it's important

Some managers aren't aware that they should be more involved and supportive. If that's the case, you need to find a way to show them the importance of mutual support and the effect it can have on you and your team.

You can organize a 1-on-1 meeting with your manager to discuss the issue privately. You could also offer to organize a training session or workshop for your team to brainstorm ways for management to get involved and provide support.

Boost their confidence & motivation

Being a leader is tough. When managers feel respected and skillful enough to lead, it fuels their desire to excel, take risks, and guide the team towards new goals. For a boost, you can remind your manager of the team's past successes and how they've helped you reach your goals.

Give honest, constructive feedback so they know what's working and what isn't. You can do this in a way that shows you care about them personally, even while challenging them directly. My manager calls this type of communication "radical candor," and he always appreciates our honesty because it gives him ideas on what we'd like to see improved.

Create a positive work climate

Once it takes hold, happiness spreads around easily and fast. But before that can happen, you need to improve communication first.

The environment must feel safe, respectful and trustworthy in order to increase positivity. Consider starting with team-building games. These activities will give managers a chance to get to know their employees better and to help them feel more comfortable with each other. From there, you can move on to other topics without being afraid of their reaction.

Key takeaway

If personal development is important to you, start by getting your manager involved. Think about what you want to accomplish in your current role, and how your manager can help you reach those goals. Talk to them about your career hopes and dreams, and foster a positive and supportive team environment. When you all support each other, you'll feel more empowered and supported on your journey of self-improvement.

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Kamy Anderson

Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing about emerging technologies in corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management systems & authoring tools, and he's currently associated with ProProfs.

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