If things look like they’re going great…

…take another look. We sometimes mistake the absence of a visible problem as a sign that all is well. There’s something brewing; you just don’t know what it is yet.

DC Metro Unemployment Rate

That’s why it’s imperative that you spend time, regularly, with your key reports to keep them engaged and growing.

Julie Winkle Giulioni has a great article (see link, below) in The Economist about dynamic ‘career development’ opportunities (vs. static, and often unrealistic, ‘career paths’). She says that a ‘static career path is simply not nimble enough to serve today’s workplace needs’ and that managers and their reports should be open to a range of new opportunities that serve employee development and business needs.

JustinBradley’s experience echoes Julie’s thinking. In addition to daily interactions, our managers hold monthly one-on-ones with each of their reports to discuss development opportunities, and several have excelled outside their traditional ‘career paths’. For example:

* When we wanted to see how a new role would work in our company, we asked an administrative employee, who had a Library Sciences degree and a knack for finding things on the internet, if he would be interested in giving it a try. He became our first Research Associate and went on to lead our Sourcing Center of Excellence.

* When JustinBradley needed to implement a back-office software add-on, one of our Research Associates jumped at the chance to oversee the supplier and manage the project.

* When JustinBradley needed a marketing coordinator, one of our top Recruiters saw that as an exciting role (and opportunity to work remotely) and moved into that role.

* We hired a Marketing major, who thought her talents lent themselves to accounting, as a staff accountant. She got her CPA, is now JustinBradley’s Controller, and she took charge of IT too!

The above may not be exactly what Julie has in mind in her article, but the common denominator is development flexibility–finding ways, to grow (retain) your staff, that support their interests and business needs.

So, engage with your key reports. Else, your key reports may be someone else’s new hires.

(Read Julie’s article ‘Career pathing: an obsolete practice?’)

Have a question or comment, reach out to Andrew at [email protected] 

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