How to identify development needs

A simple model to help people identify their development needs

2 min read

It’s not always easy to know what you need to develop, to know what you have to do to get that promotion or move that you want. Fortunately, there is a simple mnemonic that can help.

One of the things I seem to do a lot of these days is to help people write development plans. And often, the senior leaders I’m working with are either unsure (or unwilling to say) what their development needs are. So to help them, I use a simple mnemonic: RISC-E.

These letters stand for the five critical factors that decision-makers usually think about when considering whether someone can do a role or are ready to be promoted.

·The R stands for results and execution. It’s a basic and fundamental question: do they deliver the numbers? Can the get things done?

·The Istands for interpersonal skills, or in other words, are they liked, can they get on with people, and can they manage the politics of the business.

·The S stands for strategy, or put another way, are they a strong thinker? The precise emphasis here will depend upon the role, but the question asked here is usually can they create a strategic plan, do they have good judgement, or will they drive innovation?

·The C stands for the culture or climate that a leader creates within his area. Whether people want to work for him and whether he develops and improves his team.

·And finally, the Estands for experience and expertise: Whether the individual has the previous experiences and technical expertise required by the role.

In terms of importance the five factors should probably read E-RISC; but RISC-E just sounds more memorable.

Once I’ve presented the five factors to people, I then ask them to rank order the factors according to how strong or weak decision-makers may think they are in each of them. So first they identify the factor that they think stakeholders will view them as being strongest in; and then we work through the factors down to the one they think people will have the most doubts about them with.

By positioning this rank ordering as not being about what they are strong and weak at, but about their reputation and what other people think about them, it depersonalizes the development needs and seems to make them easier for people to talk about. We then focus the development plan on the factors that they identified as weaker.

© Nik Kinley, 2024

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