Help them Grow or Watch them Go
What’s the point of staff development if career ladders look like traffic jams? Tough times end promotions and pay raises.
Maybe it’s better to slow or stop staff development. What can you offer? Don’t raise hopes. However…
The people you want on your team want to learn and grow.
If they don’t want to grow, they’re dead-ends. They’ll take you there too.
Julie Winkle Giulioni, co-author of, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, suggests new attitudes and approaches to “staff development.”
Get rid of phrases like staff development. It sounds like a disease to me. Toss out leadership development and employee development as well. Embrace career development.
Reject linear. Career development isn’t simply climbing the corporate ladder. It’s climbing the career wall. Julie suggests career development looks like rock climbing. Careers move vertically and laterally. Think nonlinear.
“Think moving forward and toward rather than upward.”
Julie Winkle Giulioni
Stop taking responsibility for staff advancement. Help employees take ownership of their development and career path.
Every manager can begin career development dialogs – short, focused, on-going conversations that explore ways to creatively enhance and develop employee talents. Julie said; focus on employee-talent more than contribution. Talent is about people. Contribution is about organizations.
“For years we’ve heard that ‘talk is cheap.’ Not true.”
Help them Grow or Watch them Go.
Julie says, career advancement begins with managers who:
- Facilitate insights and awareness.
- Explore possibilities and opportunities.
- Inspire responses that drive employee-owned action.
- Stretch assignments.
- Special projects.
- In-department rotations.
- Action learning projects or teams.
- Job shadowing.
- Community service.
If “staff development” makes you anxious, check out, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.
What career development activities most help you?
What prevents managers from focusing on developing talent?
I find frequency matters. Rather than one big discussion a few times a year, I like to just deep a very open conversation going all the time… leads to more real time ah has.
Bingo! That’s exactly the strategy Giulioni suggests. Great minds!
I couldn’t agree more, Karin. I remember as an internal person sitting down each year for that awkward conversation… and looking at the form that neither my boss nor I had see since the last meeting 12 months before. Keeping the conversation alive with even 2 minute exchanges every week has considerably more power… and keeps stoking the fires of insight, exploration, and action. Thanks for joining the discussion!
great thoughts.. It seems a simple step of discussing employee development at staff meetings would keep this on managers priority lists. I have worked for very capable CEO’s but seldom heard this question/challenge.
I love how Julie and her co-author Beverly Kaye explain that simple, short, on-going conversations that leave the ball in an employees court are central to career advancement.
There are far too few conversations that center on talent development.
You’re right. If CEOs started putting this on their agendas (literally… a question asked at each meeting), it could cause a cascade of career conversation throughout the organization!
Zappos has an internal Life Coach. One of the things they do is help the player create a career they truly want even if it’s not with the company. I love Zappos.
Who wants an employee that wants to be else where? 🙂
Wow… what a great service…. to the employee and also the organization. No wonder those Zappos people are so happy!
“Stop taking responsibility for staff advancement. Help employees take ownership of their development and career path.” Great point. Giving ownership back is really another personal and professional growth opportunity for the employee. The sense of empowerment and control over personal destiny is a powerful feeling, particularly enjoyed by people who aspire to leadership.
Laurie, love how you roll owning career development into the career development topic… nice!
I love this too. But I think there is a caution. Some employees may not be quite ready. They may need more help and support to assume ownership of their careers. I’m reminded of learning to dance. In the beginning, my partner needed to play a greater role in ‘leading’… but over time, as I learned the dance steps, I didn’t need the same gentle nudges. Leaders need to gauge how prepared employees are… not just leave them to their own devices… until they can be successful at the helm. Hmmm… situational career development? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laurie!
Hi Dan, Were you at my Leadership Program yestereday??? one of my colleagues and I are currently presenting a program to all our Leaders called “The Journey to Employee Engagement.” We borrowed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” triangle and created our engagement triangle with the steps from bottom to top of on-boarding, coaching, performance management, stay interviews and engaged employees at the top. The whole idea is for our leaders to create a path of growth for their employees. We are hoping to not only improve our retention and job satisfaction, but also the skills of our employees which should then translate into a higher level of outcomes.
As one of my mentors said to me years ago, “Is it really 20 years of experience or 1 year of experience 20 times?” As leaders we have the responsibility to make sure the answer to that question is the former. Best wishes and know that many of us truly appreciate what you are doing for us with your daily blog!!
Don, We are presently opening up dialogue on employee engagement, which is a new concept for my organization. We are presently suffering from extremely high turnover and low job satisfaction. Would you be willing to share your presentation with me? email@example.com.
Tiffany, we consider anything over 10% too high, what is extremely high? The two symptoms you list;
1 – low job satisfaction and
2 – high turnover
are key indicators that your employee screening process is not identifying future non-performers.
You said: “The two symptoms you list:
1 – low job satisfaction and
2 – high turnover
are key indicators that your employee screening process is not identifying future non-performers.”
My response: “Not necessarily.”
Poor management of good employees can produce the same result. I’ve seen excellent employees give up / quit because their bosses were threatened by them or indifferent to their problems.
30 yrs ago, we called employee development, leadership development ‘Career Development’, alas the popular press, business jargon changed and so did the title of a key leadership responsibility- helping people in organizations ‘Grow’. I expect in another decade the name may change again— the responsibiliy, the opportunity wont. Jack
You’re probably right, Jack. And I guess what we call it matters much less than whether we do it! 🙂
Hello Dan, given that so many employers cannot get their hiring process right should we be surprised that their employee development programs are no more effective?
Moving up is not the only career path.
Robert, my co-author wrote Up Is Not the Only Way 2 decades ago… and it’s as true today as ever. The old career ladder has gotten pretty rickety over the years. We like the analogy of a climbing wall… an expansive playing field with the ability to move over, around and even down as necessary to ultimately get to your career goal! Does that resonate at all for you?
‘Career development’ in place of ‘staff development’. Good perceptual change when it comes to fulfilling the role of a leader. However if you want to retain your staff, give them good independent responsibilities with a public acclaim on their achievements.
Most employee staff are desirous of getting enhanced respect with good job satisfaction and progressive work environment. Encourage, motivate and guide them to add to their knowledge and confidence to move forward with happiness.
My experience says that satisfied employees will never think of leaving and shall find opportunities to contribute once developed with a solution-oriented approach. Become their real mentors and involve them in the team which enjoy work and contributes.
Love the observation that careers grow laterally, too, not just vertically. I hate to see talented employees become frustrated because the only way to move forward in their job is to get promoted out of their area of expertise, onto the next prescriptive step of the corporate ladder. Time to be open to new, custom avenues for your employees that respect the varied skills they bring.
Dan, I read an advance copy of “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.” The fundamental belief system behind this book is compelling and the authors provide many ideas of how to live it, as a manager. Very worthwhile read.
Thanks, Pete… for accepting an advance copy, reading it, and passing your thoughts along. It’s music to our ears!
Hope the ‘community service’ option doesn’t get short changed in this thread. It is a quad win-win-win-win. The employee gets to work in her/his community with something s/he is passionate about. The community benefits, the employee benefits, the community service agency benefits, and there is positive regard for the company that is allowing the employee to do some community work. Great ROI!
YES! Some of my most profound development has come through working on boards, leading charity events, etc. Especially as funding is cut for education, medical, and other services, volunteerism has the potential to really take off and fill the void. Win-win-win!
Me. Depends. I may accept that someone may like to move in a different direction, as long as they are loving what they’re doing now and excelling at it (and don’t leave us in the lurch when it’s time to move on). And don’t go running with their awesome training right to competitor … which we discourage.
Fundamentally, I do not disagree with Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye in their premise; however, (oops, there is that word again) I wonder how effective it will be when applied to Millennials.
Public and private organizations are rapidly becoming aware that this new generation of new hires are more interested in other aspects of their lives (AKA – Social Media) than slugging it out in some 9 to 5’er. (I don’t think I ever had a 9 to 5 job, any of you?) The “job” pays the bills, period.
It has been reported that 80% (let that number sink in for a moment) EIGHTY PERCENT of Millennials do NOT like their jobs and the average Millennial will have 8.6 jobs between the ages of 18 and 32. I did a bit of research on this issue recently and wrote about it in my monthly column here: http://www.ishn.com/articles/93402-how-to-manage-millennials-
I think the challenge of managing Millennials is going to be far more difficult than us Boomers had to contend with when we were and some still are managing people. Here is the paradox managers face…Millennials could care less about so called career development courses or conversations, regardless of how often you talk to/with them and whether they are moving up, down, sideways or backwards. All they are interested in is satisfying their narcissistic tendencies. Sure a manager can set her/his hair on fire and show the Millennial employee the door, but the problem then becomes WHO is going to do the work?
For all the headline press we read about in the papers and see on the MSM about unemployment/under employment, in my field of safety, health and environment there are literally thousands of jobs. Availability of jobs is not the issue, availability of EDUCATED TALENT IS! Too many Millennials have “earned” worthless degrees that employers have NO USE FOR nor are willing to pay salary and benefits for!
The real challenge right now as managers/leaders is how do you entice a twenty-something Narcissist to do her/his assigned work in a timely manner, motivate them to be creative and innovative, and not quit?
So of the six “How’s” you have given above, maybe # 6 will entice this new era worker to remain with the same employer for at least two years.
You’ve clearly done a lot of thinking about this, Jim. Thanks for laying it all out. And I appreciate the challenges some managers may face with a millennial workforce (heck, I face them with a millennial son!) There’s a point you make that I’d like to play with a bit.
You mention that ‘millennials could care less about career development courses.’ You may be right. But a lot of them do care about learning, adding to their resume, attaining new levels of certification, etc. Expanding and leveraging their talents is something that many in this generation do value… and in fact will leave for.
Is it possible that the courses and conversations we offer just don’t hit the mark for them? Do organizations need to think differently about how millennials define career success and adjust accordingly. Are we boomers just ticked off that it didn’t occur to us to say ‘no’ to the establishment way back when?! 🙂
I really appreciate you raising the issue, Jim.
For those Millennials that have more traditional (i.e., historical) work values, I believe you are right…they are interested in “learning, adding to their resume, attaining new levels of certification, etc.” But their numbers are very low.
What I have researched centers on those who want to do this purely for their own narcissistic reasons, none of which have anything to do with their current employer (even though he/she is paying for improving these skills) and more to do with their desire to leave. As I am sure you would agree, there is a big difference in taking advantage of your employer to better your skill sets and leave versus doing so to stay.
“Is it possible that the courses and conversations we offer just don’t hit the mark for them?”
ABSOLUTELY, current managers/leaders who are managing these Millennials have no idea what to talk about in these conversations. Think about it, these same managers go home at night and see the same behaviors in the children they are raising. What kinds of conversations are they having with their children?
So what is a mid-career manager to do? They do what is most familiar, they rely on the conversations they had with their previous bosses and think this is all it takes.
WRONG, one thing these Millenials are is SOCIAL. They constantly and obsessively text with their peers and compare notes across all industries and walks of life. Does your son have an Smartphone? If so, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Let’s take for example, a Millennial is having a so-called career conversation with his boss and during this interaction the boss takes a phone call. The Millennial whips out his iPhone and blasts the conversation on Facebook…”Can you believe what my freaking boss just told me?” This statement hits Facebook and 50,000 “Friends” respond in a matter of nanoseconds within minutes after the boss said whatever he said.
Today’s managers are clueless or they just don’t want believe these Millennials are so different from them. Think about it, in the course of your career how many truly inspiring career development conversations have you had with any of your bosses? The best one I ever had was with the worse boss I ever had. At the time, the company was promoting “Out of the Box Thinking.” You know, the old creative/innovative era of business in the 90’s. Well, anyway, during my annual review, my boss told me, “Jim, I have come to the conclusion, you don’t even know where the damn box is.” I took this as possibly one of the best compliments I have ever received professionally in my career. At the time, I was under the mentorship of Dr. Russ Ackoff earning my Ph.D. with him as my committee adviser and working on a company project for my dissertation that resulted in massive reductions in injuries and $25,000,000 in reduced fixed costs for the business year-over-year within 18 months of starting the project. Needless to say, my boss loved me for the stats, but couldn’t figure out how I did it and that made him very uncomfortable. Long story short at Dr. Ackoff’s suggestion, I made him comfortable so he could look good for his boss.
As far as courses go, there are NONE. Think about it, who creates these courses? People like you and me. Sure you have a Millennial son, but do you REALLY REALLY know what he is thinking? I know you want to believe in your heart of hearts that he is telling you the truth, but more than likely he is telling you what he thinks you want to hear. Now, Julie, didn’t you do this to your parents when you were his age? I know I did. Courses for Millennials have to take on an entirely different complexion and context. This is an area I am spending a lot of time on right now with a another colleague designing Alternative Realty/Virtual Reality game business scenario courses that appeal to this Millennial generation.
Do organizations need to think differently about how Millennials define career success and adjust accordingly?
Again ABSOLUTELY, career success to a Millennial has nothing to do with climbing some career ladder, whatever that means. For Millennials, this ladder climbing nonsense is too exhausting. We Boomers have raised the most pampered generation of children in the history of this country and they are entering the workforce expecting to be treated in exactly the same fashion as they were treated at home growing up. PLEASE, do not take this as a criticism of how you raised your son. I have a 40 year old daughter that isn’t too far removed from this generation. Believe me, I understand.
“Are we boomers just ticked off that it didn’t occur to us to say ‘no’ to the establishment way back when?!”
Julie, based on your question, I assume you remember the 1960’s? A lot of us may have been “radical,” in college, but once we graduated and realized that we enjoyed the notion of making money we became very polite and played the corporate game that had been passed along by our parents and grandparents. Some of us remained radical, blew up buildings and went to work for academia or the government.
This time is different. Millennials were not raised like you and me. BTW, again this is not a reflection on you personally, because as you know, your son’s peers have had as much influence on him, if not more so, than you have had on him virtually ever waking moment of the day.
This is just the reality we live in today and business needs to wake up to the realization that going into the future is going to be a lot different than where we have come from. I would predict that within 10 years or less, not a single business in the USA will be run from a bricks-and-mortar building. Technology will have advanced to such a degree that some Millennial will be running an entire oil and gas production field in the middle of Africa from her iPhone 12x sitting in a BuckStars in the Hamptons. Starbucks sold the business. In fact, she won’t even be an employee of the company…she will be doing this in her off time from playing with thoroughbred horses.
The real issue management needs to be concerned about right now is when all those Boomers who need to continue to work because they spent all their earnings over the years wake up and say, “Hey Boss, wait a minute, why can’t I be like one of those Millennials?”
It is 8:35PM in the Scottsdale desert and I need to go to bed.
Have a wonderful evening…Jim
This is terrific, Jim. What rich insights and predictions. I’m particularly drawn to your thoughts on courseware for younger workers. And the ‘real issue management needs to be concerned about’ in your second to the last paragraph really hits home. I so appreciate your thoughts and the style with with you express them. Hoping it’s a mild day in the Phoenix desert!
Regarding game technology, Julie, I use two online games as my final exam for my graduate course in safety and health management. I have found this approach truly tells me if the students have mastered the material based on the decisions they have to make in order to win the game. Traditional testing approaches make it entire too easy to cheat.
I have been teaching my course for Tulane University in New Orleans through live online broadcasts since 2000.
We are reaching that time of the year that living in the desert is fantastic…
Great post Dan. I am currently reflecting on what we might have forgotten. I was going through some archive boxes a while back and came across a document from 1968 titled GUIDING PRINCIPLES AND OBJECTIVES IN EMPLOYEE RELATIONS (all caps because back then there was no choice of fonts and bold meant overtyping!)
The document sets out very clearly management’s responsibilities in the areas of Individual Recognition, Individual Opportunity, Individual Participation, Fairness, Security and Rights and Obligations. To give you a taste, section 2 starts like this:
“Each employee should, as far as it is practicable, have the opportunity for personal progress in the Company. Accordingly, it is management’s responsibility to:-
2.1 Utilize, as fully as possible, the talents and enthusiasms of each employee for his own good and the good of the business.”
For me it has a bit of a back to the future feel as I can’t imagine many of today’s corporations adopting what seemed to be standard practice in 1968.
This is great, Paul. Thanks for passing it along!
Loved this blog! I need to share this with my boss.
Great post. Additionally, if you don’t provide education or development opportunities to your team, they may not stick around. Or if they do, they will not be growing, so do you really want them to work with you?
Good point, Michael. I frequently speak with managers who share their strategy to withhold development opportunities in an effort to retain employees. Their fear is that if people learn and grow, they’ll leave. But you’re right. Who are these managers really hurting? They hamper themselves with less-than-optimally effective employees!
This is an amazing conversation string — and I will admit up front that I haven’t read every post word for word. In answer to one of Mr. Leemann’s questions, though, I have had a 9:00 to 5:00 job — more than one in fact. I’ve also owned my own businesses. I’ve been a department head of a NYSE corporation, reporting to its CFO. I’ve reported directly to a corporate CEO. And I’ve had to restart my career as a post middle-age man.
The combination of all that has helped me realize that their are realities to face regarding staff growing and going. First of all, some of staff people are going to go whether you help them grow or not. Still others are happy being worker bees and simply aren’t motivated to grow.
Today, I’m a leader in the trenches (by that I mean, NOT someone in the C-suite). My challenge is to 1. get to know my people well enough to recognize which ones want — and have the potential/aptitude — to grow (i.e., move up, be promoted), 2. make the growth opportunities available to them, and 3. provide support and encouragement. If I have done my job well, I can help all my staff — those who are content doing what they are doing and doing it well; those that want to grow within my department; and those who I help grow and still end up “going.”
Scott, well stated, couldn’t agree with you more.
Another aspect of “going” has to do with helping those see that “going” is actually going to lead to “growing.” In my forty + years of working, I have encountered this aspect more than once. Indeed, some people just don’t work out, but that does not mean they are bad, it may mean they are simply in a culture that does not allow them to flourish.
Always remember, “We all express our brilliance in our own unique ways.”
BTW, the 9 to 5 comment was tongue-in-cheek. Most of my jobs have been 5AM to 9PM. Wonder what it would be like to have a 9 to 5 job?
Have a safe and productive day…Jim
Thanks, Jim. Interestingly, just in the past 4 years, I have been in the position of being able to do exactly what you are saying. I have helped three people who reported to me “grow” by helping them “go.”
Sorry I didn’t catch your tongue-in-cheek. (I’ve ranted more than once about the need for more emoticons to help those of us who depend so much on the written word!) Yes, that true 9-to-5 job seems as elusive as sasquatch.
This latest dialogue between Jim and Scott about helping employees “go” triggered a thought I’d like to add. Most poor or marginal performers know they are not doing well and, axiomatically, are not happy in their jobs. The manager who tackles this and either gets improvement or helps the employee to find a job elsewhere is not being “tough” and should not feel guilty for a kindly firing, should the improvement not be there. By confronting the situation, the manager is giving the employee the chance to succeed, either with the current company or at another company. The company definitely gains and the employee is given the chance to gain. (I am directing this comment to the manager who has a harder time confronting poor or marginal performers.)