"Aha. Time to Make a Change!"
I just met with what I thought was a former client. He called and said "I've got to talk with you about the assessment feedback you did with me (drum-roll) three years ago." He went on to say that he wants to explore some changes in his corporate career path and couldn't get our conversation out of his head since our original meeting. Fooled me.
If you're a manager, coach, or freelancer who gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing people develop, then delayed gratification is part of the game. You can change lots of "things" in an instant--but not people. When it comes to making professional changes (which are really personal when you get honest about it), we need to allow time for people to put new information into context, validate it, try it out in some private way, and then figure out what and how much to change. Then they decide the when question.
If you are managing a performance issue, then it's your job to set the deadline for when. If you're working with high potential people whose development plans include four or five different areas, be prepared to delay gratification for a while. And if the organization really needs one of those areas to boost its performance, let the person know when and why. It can help speed up the learning process or enable the individual to realize "that's not for me."
Either way, you've laid the groundwork for an honest response that's going to benefit both the company and the person.
Photo attribution: Grolier 1999 Encyclopedia Multimedia Edition