If you want to build a lasting organization, provide advancement opportunities for your team members. This is a huge differentiator in motivating and retaining good people. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about promoting unqualified individuals. I could tell you countless stories about people who started in one position or department and progressed to another. Often, it is the supervisor or mentor who suggests the change, based on knowing the person’s strengths. Here are just a few examples of how people advanced in their careers:
- A woman who started with an automotive OEM as an administrative assistant and eventually became an executive was recruited away to serve as CEO/president of a number of companies.
- An office helper became a key member of the marketing team as a result of his technology and social media hobbies.
- A machine operator became director of quality at a middle market automotive supplier.
- An executive assistant became president of Southwest Airlines.
- A professional service firm wanted to start a new service and offered the opportunity to a young professional who started a department that has grown to include more than 100 people.
- A CPA became a marketing professional.
The point is that it’s important to give your team members hope for a future with the company. Sometimes you may see some traits in a person and challenge them to transfer to a new area, giving them a chance to move forward. If you have a really great person who is a good fit with your company and you don’t want to lose them, take the time to figure out where they would fit best. In all the cases mentioned above, many more team members were motivated and encouraged to stay with their current company just by seeing that there were opportunities for advancement.
Do you have a process to identify key team members? Do you have a system to smoothly transfer team members from one department to another? Do you ask your team members, in their career development and planning sessions, if there is somewhere else in the company they would like to work?