Lean on me

Rosanna Machado | April 29, 2021


One of my favourite parts of the job is enabling people to learn and grow. When I think back to my first job in events, I learnt on-the-job by overhearing people on the phone, sitting in meetings, making myself useful and absorbing everything that was going on around me. In an office environment, I could see the lay of the land and spot opportunities, as well as spontaneously chat to people and ask for advice.

My ethos has always been to allow people to grow and take on responsibility, whilst creating a safe environment for them to ask advice and fail. In an office environment, a lot of this would be intuitive – my ability to read body language and sense uncertainty and on the other side, it can feel much easier to ask questions when you are sat next to someone rather than feeling that you are bothering them every hour with a phone call or Zoom request. Yet if we do want people to flourish, we have to find a way to make this work in a virtual world and create those opportunities for people to flourish.

If you are looking to develop colleagues, have a think about how to create a supportive environment with plenty of opportunities:

  • Recognise what stage of their learning they are at
  • Think about the best way to support them by having an open discussion together
  • Build a relationship based on trust and respect and be clear on expectations on both sides. This is not only about what you expect but also about how you can best support your colleague to achieve their objectives
  • Have regular communications throughout the week or even day
  • Whilst at open-door policy may not always be possible, find ways to support them outside of the formal meetings and establish a line of communication that works for both of you. I remember when I started out, it made such a difference knowing I had someone to turn to, whatever the situation
  • Be a good listener
  • Look at opportunities to coach them, rather than offering solutions
  • Encourage colleagues to flag potential issues early so that you can tackle them together
  • Think about learning opportunities within your week – are you having any meetings which you could invite them to? Are you working on a piece of work that they could shadow? The virtual world has meant less obvious visibility between colleagues, so we need to identify and share these opportunities
  • Instigate catch ups to check on how they are, without any other specific agenda

This is not about constantly checking up on people, but it is about being present and being supportive and the more you can offer this, the less people will need it and the more you will see them truly fly.