There is nothing more important for the long-term success of your team, department and company than identifying your pipeline and managing your high potentials. Whether you are thinking about who to promote, how to identify your successor or how to be a better manager, this list of things to consider along with some key questions to ponder is a good place to start. Over the next seven weeks, we’ll explore 25 ways to keep your great employees engaged and help them continue to out-perform everyone else.

This week we start with where you're spending your time.

Just for fun, I Googled, “How to build trust.” Google returned 523,000,000 results in .38 seconds. I apologize, but I’m going to make it 523 million and one. Most of the conversation I hear or read on this topic focuses on being trustworthy, which is supremely important. But there’s another aspect that doesn’t get as much attention: being trusting.

It’s so easy to criticize, to find fault, to tear others down – in large and small ways. How often do groups of employees go out after work and complain about the boss, or about other employees? This kind of activity is widespread. For some reason it feels good. But it certainly cannot be characterized as constructive. It increases negativity in the organization and hurts the people being discussed. This kind of behavior is most certainly not harmless. It does not reflect well on those who engage in it. There’s a reason people would not want their remarks shared with the targets, or with anyone else for that matter.

Some people never have to go through this experience. I’m not in that category. Getting fired is a painful, frightening, embarrassing experience. I don’t have any magic words to make you feel good about it. But I do want to encourage you to embrace it. Like any major loss in life, it happened. Embracing it doesn’t reduce the pain or sadness, but it does open you up to personal growth and wisdom. It does help you move into the future.

One of the most powerful ways you can spend time as a leader is in one-on-one interactions with the people you are responsible for managing and developing. Are you having enough one-on-one meetings with the people you lead? Are you allocating that time in ways that matter most to them? The best way to find answers to these questions is also the simplest: Ask the people on your team. Based on survey results, you might be surprised at some of the answers you get!

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