August 15, 2013

Everyone Needs A Mickey Goldmill In Their Corner

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“That Apollo won’t know what hit him. You’re gonna roll over him like a bulldozer, an Italian bulldozer. You know kid, I know how you feel about this fight that’s comin’ up… You’re gonna eat lightnin’; you’re gonna crap thunder!” — Mickey Goldmill, “Rocky V”

Everyone, including Rocky Balboa, needs a Mickey Goldmill in their corner. Mickey was in Rocky’s corner through his more dominating fights, and even through his daunting fight against Clubber Lang, which was one Mickey didn’t think he could win.

Throughout my career, I have worked for a variety of managers. The managers that made the biggest difference in my career were those who were always in my corner. These managers made a genuine effort in my development, but were there to be brutally honest – letting me know when I needed to train more, or even step out of the ring against the Clubber Langs. Managers often fail in employee development for a myriad of reasons, including:

  • Myopic focus on today’s tasks and problems
  • They aren’t rewarded for developing their employees
  • Administrative tasks (performance reviews, etc.) replace important development activities
  • Time restraints

None of these are good excuses. However, new managers often don’t know how to begin. Here are three things managers can do today to be in their employees’ corner when it comes to career development.

1. Identify your stars. Our employees are all at different talent, effort and experience levels. For the most part, we do not have stars and black holes (for lack of a better term), but we have stars that emit varying levels of light. Talk with your team members frequently and assess their potential. Help direct every employee to the opportunities that will allow them to shine.
2. Define their path. Almost everyone has a career path mapped out in their mind. Good, talented people naturally want to advance and appreciate meaningful support in the process. A manager’s role is to help shape that vision and develop the steps needed to make that vision a reality.

3. Offer reward carrots to motivate them. Career paths have high and low points. When employees have all-star moments, take the time to show immediate support, give praise, and reward. Verbal praise and public recognition often go further than monetary rewards. Find out what motivates your employees and help parlay that all-star moment into the next one.

“If you ever get hurt and you feel that you’re goin’ down this little angel is gonna whisper in your ear. It’s gonna say, ‘Get up you son of a bitch ‘cause Mickey loves you.’” — Mickey Goldmill, “Rocky V”

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