(Time to read this important article is about 2 minutes)
Whether your business is large or small and whether you’re a business owner or Department or Divisional Manager, one of your most important jobs is “growing” your people. In fact, you can’t grow your business without growing your people.
I’m constantly amazed at how few of my clients have ever sat down with each of their key ‘players’ to ask where they’d like to be in the business and in their lives in 3 to 5 years, and how they’d like to help the company grow.
These important conversations almost never happen…and many of the best people leave. A recent poll of over 2,000 employees in the UK shows that only one in 10 believed they had long-term opportunities for growth with their current employer. They’re just doing a job…they don’t have a career.
Part of this is because most business owners and managers, themselves, are not thinking 3 to 5 years ahead. They’re too busy solving today’s problems. They have no clarity about the future of their business, so they can’t or don’t want to talk about it with their team. It never even occurs to them to do so.
On the other hand, when you do have clarity about where you commit to be in 3 to 5 years, you start to think about the talent and skills your team needs to get you there profitably. Then, you start having conversations about growth and opportunity…and a lot more of your best people will stay.
Concours Auto Body in Calgary, Alberta is one Canada’s most successful collision repair shops. This is an industry that struggles with a constant shortage of skilled craftsmen and high staff turnover as shops raid each other’s top talent.
So, how has Concours owner Ken Friesen created the stable and highly motivated team that has helped him double his business in the past few years? Ken has created a clear, step-by-step career path for every employee who expresses interest in growing with the company. He meets with each new employee at the end of their first day, first week, first month…and so on. Everyone knows where they stand, what their next few steps will be, and what their promotion and career opportunities are.
If growing your business by growing your people makes sense to you, consider these three questions…
Question #1: What will your business, your Division or Department “look like” in 3 to 5 years? How big will it be? Where will it be? What will it be doing? How will it operate? In what specific ways is it likely to be different from how it looks and operates today?
Question #2: What does your Department, Division, or the entire organization, need to learn to be a profitable market leader in 3 to 5 years? What knowledge, skills, systems, attitudes, customer insights, processes, innovations and disciplines must the organization learn in order to be price-competitive, service-competitive and profitable? What technology must you embrace and master?
Question #3: Who are your top performers? Who on your team has the attitude, ability or potential to help move the business forward? Given what the organization must learn, the talent you’ll need and the potential of your current team, where are there obvious “gaps” that you’ll need to fill from outside the business? My Biz Tool #A-17: ‘Rate your talent pipeline.’ Wil be helpful here. To access it, no charge, click here.
Next, create a career path for your best people…the one’s with the ability and drive to grow. Surveys show that the #1 thing that most top performers want is a challenging job with an opportunity to contribute and grow. Sit down with each of them individually and ask these 3 questions…
- Where would you like to be in 3 to 5 years in your career and your life? What job or position would you like to have? What other things would you like to have accomplished or experienced? How can we help you get there?
- Whatever job or position they express interest in, ask them what they think that job or position will be like. If they say that they’d like to be the Sales Manager because they can play golf and enjoy expense account dining every day, write them off as lightweights.
- Next, ask them what knowledge, skills, training, education and experience they think they’ll need to perform that new job or position excellently.
Don’t expect them to have immediate answers to these 3 questions. Most people won’t…and that’s OK. Invite them to take a few days to think about and research the possibilities and book a specific time when they’ll get back to you with their thoughts. If they don’t keep that appointment, you know everything you need to know about their commitment to move ahead.
Once you’ve agreed on a career path for each person, create a specific “Growth Plan” for them, including the training and experience they’ll get…and when and where they’ll get it. This doesn’t mean that everyone will become a Vice-President…but everyone should be growing in some way, even if it just means being better at what they’re doing right now.
I know this sounds like more work than just solving day-to-day problems and complaining that you just can’t find good staff anymore…but this is what real management and leadership is all about.
By the way, include yourself in this process. What do you want to be doing in 3 to 5 years in your career and your life? What does the business need you to become? Are you committed to becoming what you must become to grow the business, lead your team and create your extraordinary life?
And, if you simply don’t want to become what you must become, what alternate plans are you making for the business, for your career…and for your life? You can’t grow your business without growing your people…and without growing yourself.