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A career can’t be mapped to one predictable path. Opportunities change, bosses change, companies merge and the future moves. It’s like using a GPS to get somewhere— only sometimes the route is straightforward. When it isn’t, the GPS knows where traffic is and can reroute you. Sometimes your GPS goes a little crazy and sends you in circles. Sometimes careers don’t go the way we’ve planned.
In addition to Accountability and Engagement, the Talent GPS process describes five key milestones of an employee’s career:
It is important to note that at any point in the employee’s career, he or she has the choice to stay, go or grow. Not everyone wants to be promoted. The employee owns the choice of where they want to go in their career. The manager owns the responsibility to provide clear feedback and direction to the employee’s goals.
As manager, you don’t have time or budget to replace a new hire that isn’t working out. That’s what makes hiring so intimidating. Michelle shares:
Imagine this scenario: an intelligent, motivated professional applies for a position with a seemingly progressive organization. Knowing the job market is competitive for hiring top talent, this company has done an excellent job branding themselves as an exciting place to work and grow a career. During the interview process, the young professional is impressed by the company’s core values, friendly interviewing team, and attractive benefits (Ping-Pong tables! Free snacks! Affordable healthcare plans!), ultimately accepting what seems to be a competitive offer for a terrific career opportunity.
Unfortunately, when he reports for work, it’s immediately apparent that the reality is much different than the blissful picture painted during the interview process. Job responsibilities are far beyond the scope of what was originally discussed, communication is lacking, and there’s no onboarding plan in place to help build a connection to the organization. Disappointed and left to fend for himself with few resources and little direction, the professional never creates a solid bond with the new company. He likely continued to explore other job options, or possibly worse: he “quit mentally, but stayed physically” with the organization, performing at a lower, less productive level and failing to achieve his career goals or organizational potential.
Sadly, this scenario is all too common for new employees of organizations in all industries. Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar situation firsthand during your career. Talented, intelligent, newly-hired professionals of all experience levels—from recent college graduates to seasoned leaders—find themselves wandering on a confusing path through the hiring process.
In your role as a manager, hiring new employees is a critical component of leading others and developing an effective, engaged team. How are you taking ownership of it? Critical and simple activities include:
We recommend a Job Benchmark for accuracy and Gap Reports to compare candidates. Want to know more about these? Email us at email@example.com for sample reports.
Everyone is busy. But the truth is, you’re too busy NOT to provide a sufficient onboarding experience for your new employees. Furthermore, this is the price of admission for a manager—a key distinction between an individual contributor and a manager. Coaching and guiding both new and experienced employees is an important part of your job, even if there isn’t a designated bullet point on your job description that says so. Critical and simple activities include:
Whether this is your first time hiring a new employee, or you’re often bringing on new team members, you may find yourself lacking a consistent preparation process. The onboarding process doesn’t start on the employee’s first day; rather, it starts earlier and continues for their entire career.
His senior year, he took the suggestion from a mentor to participate in a software programming class. The seed was planted, but he wasn’t sold on making a career of it. He headed to college planning to earn a degree in business administration and accounting. His roommate was computer science and they spent many late nights in their dorm room coding. The passion became so strong, he dropped out of college and starting working as a programmer at a call center.
Over the course of the next several years, Tom found himself in several different jobs—IT help desk, tech for a retail technology store, manufacturing, and even politics until he came full circle back to IT. After working as the primary IT person in an organization, he realized he could do this on his own. His own company would fulfill his passion to problem-solve and help people. So, Tom did just that.
Today he’s the founder and CEO of a successful IT organization. Once he put his dream out into the universe and was intentional about making it happen, he could see and achieve it. To him, that means he’s able to live by his own rules, have the flexibility and capability to have a balanced lifestyle and provide for his family in a way that fills his passion. And, he says, “I can wear jeans every day.”
It may be that you are or will become the manager of a Tom. It doesn’t matter whether you or Tom are going to be there forever. You can help him (or her) navigate to the career that’s best while doing impactful work today. Critical and simple activities (in the book) include helping your employee:
A Career Map is an outline of different paths to move through a career and get to the job that fits your strengths. You’ve likely heard of a Career Plan. A Career Map process is different. Just like a real map, a Career Map will contain alternate routes, not just one specific path to one specific destination. This is a priority in the Talent GPS approach—like each person, each path is unique.
I was sponsored by an executive friend to be part of a closed, quasi-secret group of high-potential employees. We had speakers and meetings, but no clear plan for what we were supposed to be learning or how to manage our career paths. I’m sure the people who weren’t asked to participate were frustrated and demotivated by this process, and our supervisors were out of the loop as well.
I learned these four important facts that managers must share honestly with direct reports:
Ultimately, it significantly delayed her success and overall satisfaction, and she questioned her loyalty with the organization. Less than two years later, she accepted a position with another company.
Promoting an internal employee—whether elevating an existing team member to a supervisory role or bringing someone in from another department or division—is a process that requires careful planning and consideration. In many ways, it’s like onboarding a new employee all over again, even when the employee has been with your organization for several years. As a manager, you’re responsible for coordinating many aspects of the promotion process, which you’ll explore in this book. These aspects include:
It’s not an easy market. Today, the good candidates already have a solid position. The great candidates are sought after and courted by several organizations. It’s expected that professionals will hold a role for a few years, not a few decades. The current job market is a jungle and recruiters and managers are constantly battling to attract and retain the best employees possible. The million-dollar question is, “How do you retain the best?” There’s no magic wand—sorry. But there is hope.
A young college graduate entered the workforce a month after the recession hit in 2008. Her degree was basically a formality—unrelated to any industry in which she planned to job-hunt. Like many people in that moment this young lady, who we’ll call Beth, found herself without a purpose, without a plan, and without a job. Thanks to the tough economic climate at that time, though, she also found herself, like many Millennials, open to new possibilities.
Beth was introduced to a company that was on the brink of a rebuild. Their CEO was looking to grow the organization after a rough few years and was searching for a project manager with many of the strengths Beth brought to the table. Looking at the job market, Beth thought “What the heck!” and jumped into the world of learning and development. This was a long way from her degree in telecommunications, and a subject she knew nothing about, but Beth was lucky enough to have a mentor willing to invest in her growth.
Beth settled into her role as project manager and grew to love the industry. After a few years as a project manager, she was given the opportunity to learn more about the organization from the business development side of things. A few years after that, she was challenged to take more opportunities in front of customers and clients. After seven years in the field, she’s totally immersed in every aspect of the business and completely engaged in the industry. And let’s not forget—she’s a Millennial. A recent statistic showed that the average tenure of a Millennial in a specific work role is two years, and Millennials consider themselves loyal after giving an organization seven months of time. So, what is it that’s made Beth such an outlier?
• Impact. Since beginning work with her organization, she’s been shown exactly how her role contributes to the overall success of the organization. She knows that what she does has an impact, and that gives her purpose.
• Communication. Expectations have been openly and honestly communicated to Beth. When she finds herself in doubt or rethinking her path, there’s trust built into her relationships that allows her to openly discuss next steps and any potential problems or issues coming down the path.
• Feedback. Feedback is given often and in both directions. Very early in her career Beth was given a voice and encouraged to give open and honest feedback. That’s very empowering and very effective.
• Investment. The owner, the employees, the facilitators, and the industry all invest and highly value their people. Each team member knows without a doubt that they’re uniquely important to the organization. Beth knows the more she invests in herself and the success of the organization, the better the company functions. Among other things, that gives her a sense of pride and belonging. Beth is excited to see where the company goes next and is happy to think of the personal impact she’ll have over the next five to ten years.
Since the recession, companies have set aside growing their people, and talent processes are dated, dusty or non-existent. Our customers are now investing heavily in developing leaders who can develop and retain their people. Here’s a story from a customer I worked with before the recession:
We had the privilege to develop and lead a custom experiential leadership program for over 300 Leaders at Medco, which is now Express Scripts. Top performers were nominated by the executives to participate in this program. Each learner received coaching on their individual development plans during and for at least six months following the program. The leadership was serious about developing leaders.
Medco was a pharmacy benefit management company with IT and pharmacist leaders. It was a competitive culture. The company was created from a split with Merck. The executive leadership team knew that Medco had the potential to grow very quickly, and growing talent would be the key. Succession Planning had to be done differently. High-performing staff would have to be able to move up quickly and replace themselves quickly, without stopping the progress of the team. The executives coached their leaders to look at Succession Planning this way: if you want to move up, you have to build your own successor(s) to replace you. Each leader at every level had this succession goal as part of their performance review. For every leadership position, there was supposed to be a replacement ready to step in.
We saw a difference in this company compared to others we had worked with:
• These leaders didn’t see themselves as competing against each other for positions. Instead, they were competing to grow their teams quickly and effectively, ensuring future new opportunities. There was no secret plan—you got promoted if you got your team ready and you had the talent to push on. In a quickly growing business, there are plenty of opportunities.
• The leaders prioritized time to grow their replacement because it was in their best interest.
• The great leaders also communicated their plan to their whole team so it wasn’t a secret game. Anyone could grow, but they had to do the work. Anyone could also stay where they were.
Now when I search LinkedIn, it’s clear these leaders still have impressive careers. This approach drove engagement and personal responsibility well beyond their time at Medco. As a manager, you have the power to grow both your own career and that of the future leaders of your organization in the same way.