Developing productive and passionate employees requires a significant amount of attention from leadership. Managers must be able to identify future leaders, and must be able to help those future leaders gain the skills and knowledge they will need to advance in their careers. One of the best ways to create this type of development is through a system of accountability.

Accountability is typically associated with job performance, but it can also be attached to career development. Most employees want to grow and develop in their careers, but they cannot be expected to know just how to get from Point A to Point B without a bit of guidance and support. Effective leaders will be able to help talented individuals achieve their goals through a process of empowerment and accountability.

Moving Beyond Day-to-Day Management

Consistent communication is critical to inspiring accountability among your team members. While annual development meetings are necessary, they must be supported by a series of follow-up meetings to help track progress.

Each meeting, whether it is conducted weekly, monthly, or at some other regular interval, should include discussions on upcoming projects, where and how the individual employee can take on more responsibility, and where they might gain some additional experience and knowledge. When leaders check in with their reports like this on a regular basis, it creates a sense of ownership and accountability. The employee will know where they need to focus more (or less) of their energy, and they will begin to see progress when it comes to their own career development.

Employees will also feel more engaged in the process when they see that their leaders are interested in their personal career growth. They will have a better understanding of where they fit in on individual projects, but also where they will fit in in the future. This can foster a sense of loyalty and connectedness that might not germinate in an environment where leaders are only checking in once or twice a year.

Take An Active Role

It’s not enough to ask your employees what they want to do and then expect them to know how to reach their goals. Leaders must also act as coaches. They should be able to identify the strengths in each employee, as well as weaknesses, and be prepared to offer suggestions and feedback to help them get where they want to go.

If an employee wishes to move into management, for example, be prepared to offer her suggestions and assignments that will give her the experience to one day become a leader herself. Come to each development meeting prepared with specifics to help her achieve the professional development she desires. These suggestions may include ideas such as:

    • Onsite or offsite training opportunities.

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    • The opportunity to work on teams outside the department.
    • Small leadership roles on individual projects.
    • Online courses.

Once you’ve identified specific ways the employee can work towards her goals, attach KPIs to those goals. We typically associate KPIs with job performance only. But KPIs for development give employees a road map to follow on their desired career paths. The employee wants to achieve a goal; so set up milestones to help her plan her steps and get where she wants to go. Give her support where she needs it, and help her identify new ways to achieve.

Effective leaders understand the value of developing and nurturing talent. By making a concerted effort to hold employees accountable for their own career progress, they can help lead the next generation of leaders toward success.