Want to Develop Your People—But Not Sure How? Ask Madeleine

Thoughtful businessman work on notebook while sitting at woodenHi Madeleine, 

I am a hotel manager for a high end property in a large metropolitan city.

I am trying to create a program where department heads and midlevel managers at the hotel can come together to chat candidly about their career goals and how to achieve them. I have a vision to devote 30 to 60 minutes each week to this new program. 

Any suggestions on what sort of things I should focus on in that time duration?

I’d also appreciate your suggestions on what to call these meetings so it sends a good message. Thanks for any feedback. 


Dear Developer,

Well, isn’t your team lucky to have you! I applaud your desire to develop people; it’s not as common an idea as you might think—despite our best efforts to spread the word.

With the amount of time you are devoting, it will be important to generate consistent value that hits your goals. I have some thoughts about how to do that:

  • First, get input. Ask the folks you’re inviting a couple of questions, such as: “What would make you attend?” “What would you want to get out of it?” “What would you want to give?”
  • Second, you might want to think about starting with a small cohort of your very best people. Meet someplace nice, make it visible, and spread the word that the group is by invitation only. This way when people are invited to join, they feel singled out for something positive. The group is seen as a reward—an elevation of status.
  • Don’t be surprised if people are a little skittish at first about sharing their aspirations. It may make them feel exposed and vulnerable. They need to feel safe before they open up. Starting with something relatively broad like discussing current goals. Ask each person for one goal they would want to share with the group to get accountability and support. By choosing what to reveal, they feel a sense of control.
  • Consider discussing higher level management topics like servant leadership, building trust, managing change, leading teams, personal development, or time management, to name a few. Invest in a couple of good leadership books—I’d suggest you start with the greats (Drucker, Bennis, Maxwell, Dupree, Blanchard, Collins, or Goldsmith, for example) and discuss concepts from them.
  • For those who don’t consider reading that much fun, excellent lists are available of current top management thinkers. Provide links to short blog posts for ideas that spark discussion.
  • Alternatively, each session could be driven by a question such as: What makes a good leader? How should a leader deal with someone who is late all the time? What do you know you should be doing as a manager but don’t quite know how?

In terms of what you might call your group, consider tying the name of the group to one of the stated values of your organization. For example, a value at Zappos is to “Deliver Wow with service.” They might call a group like yours The Wow Club.

Here are some other idea starters: Future Focus Conversations, Career Maps, Plan A Club , Brainstormers, Opportunity League, Look Ahead Club, Onward and Upward, Growth Guild, Career Club, Career Alliance, Rising Stars, or Talent Incubator.

There is always the possibility of a clever acronym—maybe something like LEAD—Leadership Exploration And Development, or MILE—Maximum Impact Leadership Effectiveness.

(You might get more ideas in the comments.)

Do let me know how this works out!

Love, Madeleine

About the author


Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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