Are you the same person you were a year ago? Ten years ago? Of course not. We’re all destined to evolve due to a variety of factors, whether through sudden, life-changing experiences or a slowly morphing sense of self.
Why, then, are we as businesspeople shocked when team members no longer seem to be ideal for their roles? Shouldn’t we anticipate and plan for this reality? And if we did, wouldn’t it be so much easier to move our talented co-workers into positions that make more sense according to who they are, not who they were?
Entrepreneurs everywhere would be wise to think like a Vegas dealer and consider shuffling the deck once in a while to realign everyone’s priorities.
When businesses start out, team members wear multiple hats. The founder might clean the toilet while the art director handles customer service. Once this period subsides, though, everyone settles into his or her respective niches, and new employees are consistently hired into highly specified roles.
Here’s the rub: As candidates come on board, they bring with them certain abilities and talents that may never be tapped in their positions. What happens? The workers conduct their duties as assigned and progressively grow less inspired. Eventually, their only alternative is to “suck it up” or leave the company.
This is misalignment in its truest form. The employees feel trapped by an organizational structure that keeps them pigeonholed and unable to fully contribute to the team. Meanwhile, the powers that be don’t understand why no one is willing to “stick it out” longer than two years. While this doesn’t happen deliberately, it happens all the same.
Every company needs to set its sights on fostering alignment between the best roles for team members as befits the business’s objectives and vision. It all starts with taking some steps toward a more organic way of managing people.
All team members, whether new hires or longstanding employees, should have the opportunity to touch base with their supervisors to discuss what they’re doing and what they want to do. Giving them the chance to bring their desires in the open has a twofold benefit. First, it opens the door to communication so supervisors are aware of potentially disgruntled workers before they leave. Secondly, it allows management to rethink where the employee might best produce for the company.
At Rocksauce, our growth plans allow us to go over team and individual goals and make real-time adjustments. For instance, if one of our managers is more inclined toward organization, we might infer that he or she should be the supervisor in charge of organizing meetings and making schedules. Certainly, any managerial colleagues should be cross-trained, too; that’s only sensible. But you’ll basically play to that individual’s strengths.
Who knows? Your next star salesperson might be working in the IT department and waiting for the chance to shine. But you have to open the door a crack to find out.
Workplace culture can fluctuate, changing the team’s overall mindset and dynamic. Routinely talk to your most trusted team members about what they think is the next strategic move to make, both companywide and for teams or departments. Then determine who best can serve in the positions needed to scale. At the same time, keep your eyes and ears open. You may notice that you have a leader in the making — or that someone leading should be following instead.
We like to seek feedback from Rocksauce team members whenever possible. These can materialize as official core value assessments or just informal conversations. The former allows teammates to rate themselves and continue to strengthen their personal values that align with the company’s values. The latter may happen more sporadically but is no less important.
Comfort can be dangerous when you’re in a leadership role, potentially causing top talent to head out the door. A LinkedIn study suggests that people tend to leave jobs because they don’t feel they can advance. What most of the survey respondents didn’t know was that in up to 69 percent of cases, they had access to internal mobility choices. No one person is to blame; it’s a matter of leaders making assumptions on the basis of what they think “everyone” knows.
Instead of opting for the status quo, challenge your own thought processes and share your new ideas with team members. Reassessing and reexamining employees’ roles and duties may allow you to see your team members in a new light. Plus, being open to moving employees to different spots on the team can help everyone feel more passionate about what they’re doing because they have new challenges to explore.
Stagnancy isn’t good for anything, from standing pools of water to athletic performance to startups serious about growth. Ensure positive outcomes and superior employee performance and avoid team rifts well in advance by staying attuned to changing individual and cultural needs within your workplace.
Michael Manning, chief relationship officer at Rocksauce Studios, joined the team to bring her considerable marketing, analytical, and relationship skills to the team. As chief relationship officer, she leads the charge on invigorating the company's loyalty, happiness, and customer engagement from within.