Keep great employees doing their best work
“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
—Laurence J. Peter
The Peter Principle
Promoting a great employee can be your worst move. If the promotion requires skills the person can’t master and work that he or she doesn’t enjoy, you are setting up your great worker to fail.
Find the perfect match of your employees’ talents and interests and your organization’s needs. Retain your best employees with these practices:
- Understand their ambitions. Your top salesperson may have no interest in being a sales manager. That person may be content excelling at sales or crave a totally different type of challenge. Some workers are satisfied delivering their best work for eight hours a day while others are aiming for the highest slots on the organizational chart. You won’t know unless you ask.
- Clarify the options. As you discuss career options with employees, provide a realistic view of different jobs. Explain that you can’t pay more than a certain rate for each job, and outline the possibilities open to them. Discuss the required skills and what a typical day on the job involves. Offer opportunities such as job shadowing so that they can preview openings before they apply.
- Be creative about compensation. Recognize that a bigger paycheck isn’t the most satisfying reward for every employee. Maybe your salesperson looks forward to the trip for top sellers each year and wouldn’t trade that for a corner office and any salary. If you can’t boost the salary of a top worker, perhaps you can pay a bonus for that person to train others too. If your best customer service rep is applying for a different position solely because she wants to work different hours, find a way to make that happen in the current job.
- Show the value of every team member. Talk regularly about the contributions that staff members in every position make to your organization’s success. Employees will see that they don’t need to hold a certain title to be an important member of the staff.
Allowing employees to use their best skills in jobs they enjoy improves productivity and reduces turnover. When you have a great worker, hold on without holding that person back.
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