S8 E1 Employees seek career progression. Lean business structures make this difficult. What alternatives are available with Jeremy Gray
- January 13th 2022
Episode 1 Employees seek career progression. Lean business structures make this difficult. What alternatives are available? In exit interviews one of the leading reasons given for leaving is the lack of career progression, by which they mean promotion. When I started work, more years ago than I care to remember, there was plenty of opportunity for career progression. I was hired as Senior Management Accounts clerk, was promoted to Management Accounts Supervisor, then to Assistant Accountant. I reported to the Management Accountant who in turn reported to the Chief Accountant. From the Junior Management Accounts Clerk to the Chief Accountant there were five layers, five opportunities for career progression. And this was within a small operation of a major British PLC. Who knows how many layers there were between me and the Finance Director of the PLC.? Today with automation and lean structures there are far fewer layers in organization. When I left the US MNC, I worked for in 2020 there were only four layers between a junior finance person in Asia and the Global CFO based in the United States. Opportunities for career progression are few and far between. It is critical that companies consider the alternatives they can offer to career progression, that will keep they employee satisfied, engaged and retained. It is important to understand why employees seek career progression. Money is certainly part of it and should not be ignored but there are other more important reasons. Employees seek job satisfaction. Edwin A Locke defined job satisfaction as “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job experiences” Goes back to the 1970s and although simple has been widely accepted. Feeling that your talents are being wasted is not going to lead to a sense of job satisfaction. Seeking new challenges. Employees see career progression as the way to find new challenges. Staying within your comfort zone can feel safe but your will not grow without challenging yourself. Staff who feel challenged are more likely to be engaged, which of course reinforces job satisfaction. And the opposite is true, employees who do not feel challenged or if their role offers no room for improvement will begin to disengage. A confidence boost. No surprise, confident self-assured employees perform better. But many employees say they lack self-confidence at work. A recent survey found that 70% of employees lack self-confidence at work. The percentage is higher in women at 79% than in men at 62%. Getting promoted provides a big boost to self-confidence. Money – in many companies the only way to improve your standard of living is to get promoted or to change jobs. In today’s flat organizations not, everyone can be promoted when they feel they are ready. Some employees will be truly ready, some will be not ready yet and some will never be ready, although they think they are. Most employees are worthy of retention, if they were not, you should have taken action to help them leave your company to find more suitable employment. Given that you cannot provide them with the promotion they are seeking how do you create an environment that encourages them to stay with you. Starting with your employees who are truly ready to be promoted. Consider a lateral move. Done well a lateral move can enhance an employee’s career, done badly it can derail a career. A first step is to talk to the employee about their career aspirations. Where do they see themselves going within your company? You may hear that they aspire to general management or P&L responsibility. Is this a realistic expectation? If not, you should help the employee understand what is realistic. This will be a difficult conversation that will require planning. To avoid having to respond on the fly, ask your employee to describe their career aspirations prior to have that face to face or Zoom call meeting.
Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray
After over 30 years in the MNC corporate world at the C-suite or General Manager level I am now focused on helping Entrepreneurs and SME's succeed. Using the lessons learned from working in Europe, North America and Asia while as an MNC executive along with 7 years supporting smaller businesses I bring this knowledge to my listeners. The topics will change but the message will remain the same, how to profitably grow your business.
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