Staying In Front Of The 8 Ball

People in general want to feel challenged. They want to be interested in what they are doing at work. They want to stretch and sink their teeth into something, hit their targets and celebrate successes. If the culture and environment doesn’t support this – chances are they will, in time, become disenchanted and eventually leave.

Organizations need to have qualified people ready to cover for critical roles. Having successors in place builds your bench strength and organization resilience for those unexpected events and losses. So how is it that you can be proactive in keeping your people engaged and motivated in their roles?

In Liz Wiseman’s recent book, Rookie Smarts, she noted the following:

“In general, we found that after receiving a challenging assignment, people:

  • Have figured out their role within three months
  • Are ready for the next big challenge within just three months
  • Are ready for a new role within one year
  • Begin to feel stale within two years”

Given that the majority of employees are ready for a new challenge every three months and ready for a new role at one year, what can you do to prevent your workforce from getting stale?

The answer lies in Succession Planning. We all know what it is and we all know that we should be doing it. Are you? Here are a few tips on how to expand on the process:

Tip#1 – Become a learning organization

When you can teach someone a skill that you have, you learn it that much more deeply. In addition, the knowledge base within your company just grew.

Tip #2 – Introduce a learning component into each role

Individuals will have a stretch component or ‘skill gap’ where they are learning something new in addition to their strengths.

Tip#3 – Provide individuals the opportunity to re-charge on their vacation

Vacations and time off – what to do? Should you have an open policy or a set standard? Or, how about a set minimum, as Mathias Meyer writes about here?  By mandating role cross training with your staff, you provide the opportunity for individuals to back each other up providing the coverage required. Preventing burnout by Taking a Break is cheaper than turn over and on-boarding!

Tip #4 – Get to know your team

Get involved with their goal setting, personal and professional. Have a stake in their future dreams, mentor when you can and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones. You’ll be better positioned to sense when they are feeling stale so that you can strategize together, how to further engage them.

Don’t get left behind the 8 Ball!

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