Walking path in the trees

Where’s the Path Forward?

Steve Fletcher posted an important reminder for manager-types:

Boost Retention by Giving your Employees a Defined Path Forward

He’s right, of course. When an employee doesn’t have a clear path to the next position, they are at risk of being offered the next position by a competitor. It happens all the time. You’ve got a manager, or director, who’s been there a long time, who’s not going anywhere for a long time, and the senior folks on their team start getting offers for that same director-level position at another firm.

It makes sense. If you block them from any forward career path by not growing the team and the opportunities, they’ll go elsewhere.

But, I think there’s more to it than just retention. I think it’s about engagement too. That ever-elusive term seems to be used everywhere to describe employees who are on board with the company strategy and willing to do the hard work to help hit those organizational goals. At the end of the day, we may not come right out and say it, but we all wonder “what’s in it for me?”

Because really, not many employees are going to remain engaged if there isn’t much in it for them. If they sacrifice and put in the emotional work of being a fully engaged employee and doing the work that helps the company succeed, there’d better be more than a yearly 2% raise and a pizza party to celebrate. Especially when Don in the cubicle across from them left at 5 every day, did the bare minimum to keep his job, and got the same 2% raise. There had better be a path forward for all the hard work, otherwise, they’re just wasting time and effort here.

It doesn’t have to be about someone being promoted to your job, necessarily. But it does need to be about having room to grow. Does your team have room to grow, if not, expect that there are a lot fewer reasons to stay and be engaged.

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