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3 Ways to Develop Your Deer

Updated: Jan 3, 2019



As I thought about peer-to-peer learning the other day, I wondered: How can managers foster more peer-to-peer learning among their direct reports and teams?


Just then, a bolt of creativity hit: If we’re talking about direct reports, does that make it “deer-to-deer” learning, as in Direct Engaged, Empowered Reports? Sometimes I amaze myself with my creative strokes of genius.


Cheesy acronym aside, I decided to explore whether deer idioms and terms would spark ideas for peer-to-peer learning. Here are three resulting ideas worth discussing during upcoming development conversations:


1) DEER Crossing: If you’ve encouraged your people to find mentors, that’s great. But what about a little cross-pollination within the team?

  • How can they mentor each other?

  • What can peers learn from the unique strengths, skills and perspective they each bring?

  • How can they partner on assignments or share best practices and lessons learned from past experiences or development efforts?

The key is to be intentional in encouraging them to capture and share what they’re learning from each other and how they’re growing as a result.


2. DEER in the Headlights: Picture someone’s face when they’re about to deliver a presentation or take on a challenging assignment.

  • What experience would make your directs feel like “deer in the headlights”?

  • What are the limits of their comfort zone, and how can you take it up a notch? For example, if they’re already comfortable delivering internal presentations, how can they present to more senior audiences, or share knowledge externally via professional associations or conferences?

If they can’t think of ways they’d feel like deer in the headlights, what would make you feel like a deer in headlights when assigning work to them?

“Give people slightly more trust, freedom, and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’re not nervous, you haven’t given them enough.” -- Lazlo Bock

3. DEER Antlers: Pointy antlers remind me of gripes and complaints that can fester into disengagement. In my last post, 5 Ways to Turn Gripes into Growth, I shared how you can have more authentic development conversations by encouraging proactive, solution-driven ideas around such commonplace gripes as, “If I ran this place, I would…” or “This makes no sense.” Consider how to help them work toward a solution…and treat it like a development opportunity regardless of the outcome.

Deer idioms and phrases aside, this experiment reminded me that a little shift in perspective – drawing ties between development opportunities and seemingly unrelated concepts – can help you and your directs uncover more possibilities during your development conversations.

Give it a try with your own phrase, image or question...and let me know how it goes!


About the Author: For over 20 years, Marcelle has honed her craft as certified leadership coach and experiential development strategist within diverse Fortune 100 companies and the defense industry, coaching and advising everyone from C-Suite executives and leadership teams, to front-line managers and new hires. She’s masterful at enhancing existing talent development processes by infusing “job mixology” -- the ideal blend of job-related experiences, certified coaching and creative strategies needed to ensure development efforts fuel lasting results. Contact her at: marcelle@jobmixology.com.


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