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Why ‘No Thanks’ is an Unacceptable Response to Development Today

Given the scope and volume of what employees are grappling with today, it’s understandable that many have hit the pause button on their own development. Just getting through the day, concerns about personal safety, and back-to-back video calls frequently consume all of the energy an individual can muster.

As a leader, it’s easy to ignore these people because you likely have your hands full with the very same things… as well as attending to those employees on the other end of the continuum – those who desperately want to grow, develop, and progress.

Yet, in the current environment, growth is not optional; it’s essential to surviving today and thriving as we enter the next normal. Emerging from this recession, reopening businesses, jumpstarting production and service streams, and responding to quickly evolving customer needs demands a deep and daily commitment to learning and development.

In fact, anyone who is not developing is going to actively lag behind. What helped your employees and organization get to where they are today is likely falling considerably short of what’s needed and will continue to erode effectiveness in the months to come.

As a result, leaders must re-educate employees and help anyone who thinks they can defer development to understand the risks associated with hitting that pause button right now. So, if you encounter someone who is reluctant to grow, try these three strategies.

Educate others about the need for continual growth.

Offer candid and transparent information about what’s changing, the pace of change, and how staying ahead of the curve helps customers and themselves. Well-informed employees will understand the urgency behind development when they appreciate more deeply the pressures facing the organization and the implications associated with not evolving and keeping pace. But, beyond sharing your perspective, you have to understand theirs… which brings us to the next strategy.

Uncover the sources of reluctance.

Understand what might be keeping people stuck or unwilling to grow. Peel back the layers of overwhelm, confusion, discomfort, or lack of confidence with curious questions. Listen with the intention to fully understand the inner landscape that – if unaddressed – will compromise success in the outer landscape.

Highlight what’s in it for others to continue growing.

Like you, employees find themselves on the hamster wheel of day-to-day activity that has only accelerated during the past few months.  It’s hard to see the trees – much less the forest – when you’re rolling around in the pine needles – and doing so in isolation for so long. So, make sure to connect the dots between an employee’s sources of reluctance or resistance to development, their motivations, and need to grow in a way that’s personal, compelling, and prepares them for what’s to come.

We can’t forget that development – or lack thereof – doesn’t just affect the individual. It profoundly influences the quality of the products and services an organization can offer. To successfully emerge from pandemic-related business downturns and struggles demands raising the bar on a range of business and human outcomes. Continuing to grow your people is the surest way to grow – and regrow – your business.

Originally published on SmartBrief.

2 comments on “Why ‘No Thanks’ is an Unacceptable Response to Development Today

  1. Jeannie Coyle on


    I have clients who are good at developing people but have difficulty with high resistance to change people.

    Perhaps this recent cataclysmic change will be a wake-up call for those resisters. Your ideas will help and I will send them along

    • Julie Winkle Giulioni on

      I’ve spoken with quite a few leaders as well who are comfortable and effective working with others who welcome development… but who don’t quite know how (or even if) to press the matter. Given conditions today, however, learning and growth must be everyone’s priority. I’m delighted that this information might be helpful, Jeannie.


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