By Beth Zimmerman
Leadership. In the organizational context, this phrase typically refers to a select group of people with titles such as CEO, vice president, director, and manager.
At Evans, we embrace a broader concept of leadership, one that asserts that leadership is for the many, not the few. As an integral component of our culture and employment brand, all members of the Evans team are supported in exercising and strengthening their leadership skills in ways that align with their personal passions and Evans’ corporate goals. We also make additional investments to ensure that those with people-management responsibilities have strong skills in, and a consistent approach to, supporting those they manage in succeeding in their respective roles.
As a result of this approach to leadership, Evans is extremely honored to have earned a Helios Apollo Award for Leadership Development in June 2016. The Apollo Awards honor human capital excellence in talent development.
Evans applies a mix of practices to bolster leadership among its team members broadly:
- Coaching: Each staff member has two assigned internal coaches, one focused on client work and one on career development. In addition, managers meet monthly to identify staff who may be ready for new challenges so they can be matched with career development opportunities. In 2015, 50% of staff were given new client and/or project assignments to support growth, and 20% were promoted to greater levels of responsibility.
- Tools for success: Evans’ tools for success support everyone in honing their management and leadership skills and delivering high-quality services. These include the Evans Employee Engagement Guide which ensures a consistent approach for workforce development, the Evans Project Management Handbook which outlines a practical method for efficiently and effectively managing projects, and the Evans Client Experience Guide which defines processes and standards for creating a remarkable client experience.
- Mixed-level teams. Another fundamental approach is getting titles “out of the way” when comprising project teams. Mixing staff at different levels allows them to be exposed to others with diverse experiences and skills and accelerates their learning. A director recently served on a project led by a manager, giving team members a chance to learn from an organizational thought leader as both a colleague and mentor, a unique team-based environment for growth.
- Internal and external opportunities for growth. Individual growth opportunities abound as Evans pursues its organization development and community partnership goals. From integrating new technologies, to guiding communities of practice, to serving as board members and conference chairs in professional associations, staff with the interest in and commitment to these endeavors can benefit from the immense growth opportunities they offer.
- Training for people managers: Evans recognizes that leading people requires a special focus to ensure that our people-managers have the skills and confidence to direct the development of others. Therefore, in 2015 we launched the Evans eXcellence in Leadership (EXL) Program, a year-long program for emerging people managers that included training on delegation, managing performance, building high-performance teams, strengthening interpersonal relationships, and managing conflict. We are now building an approach for expanding the learning to new people managers.
Through these mix of practices, Evans fosters an environment that allows each team member to grow as professionals, individuals, and leaders.