Penny-wise: Investing in Others

My daughter recently lobbied me for an increase in her misery allowance. She asked for $1 more each week. I gave her two options. Option 1, she could choose to take the extra $1 each week. Or Option 2, she could choose to receive a penny in her bank each Monday, and each day of the week that followed, I would give her double the amount of pennies she received the previous day until Sunday, allowance day. Then she could take all of those pennies instead of the extra $1.

Which would you choose?

Yeah, she chose the $1 instead of the penny option. I don’t think she wanted to do the math (after all it’s summer, and she has only a few precious months to forget everything she learned the previous year). And I think the idea of pennies made the outcome seem insignificant to her. But had she taken the time to figure it out, she would have figured out that she could have had $1.27 extra each week instead of just $1.

Did you choose wisely? If not, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not alone.

Many managers do the same thing when it comes to investing in their employees. Some are too lazy to “do the math.” They don’t see how developing employees pays off, and they are ignorant of that fact that investing in employees benefits the employee, the manager, and the organization. When these managers are confronted with an essential task that must be done well, they end up doing it themselves or entrusting it to an employee who is already highly developed. They go with the sure thing, like my daughter did by taking the dollar instead of doing the math. These managers don’t give others the opportunity to learn and grow. And as a result, they will never create developed leaders.

Other times, managers view the investment in developing others as just a penny. How much value, they reason, can a little bit of my time increase the knowledge of my employees? While that might be true initially, look at the pennies above. How long did they take to add up to more than the original $1 increase my daughter requested? Not long. Managers who don’t take time enriching their employees might have more time…today. But those underdeveloped, underutilized employees will cost that manager time and money down the road.

Developing others creates an exponential return on even small investments of time and energy.

And if you’re not going to take advantage of your pennies, give them to someone who knows how to use them. Contact me, and I’ll tell you where to send them…

What have you done this week to develop someone?

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