Progress Without Titles

2 minutes, 28 seconds reading time

Let’s face it, most of us work for small to mid sized organizations in which there is only so far someone can progress – at least in title anyway.  We have heard the complaints around retention issues and all seen the memo about the CFO who asks the CEO “what if we spend money on training and people leave”, to which the CEO replies “what if we don’t and they stay?’  The reality is that people are changing jobs more regularly.  Therefore, if as a business leader you can increase those cycle lengths, with a more engaged workforce, it stands to reason you will gain a competitive advantage.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible companies, but everyone of those had room for improvement – so lets all assume that nowhere is perfect.  So with every organization having a chance to improve and evolve, why do we still see a need for progression as one of the major reasons for someone leaving employment?

Too often progress for employees is provided by title or compensation, we need to think broader than that.  In my personal experience, progress is as simple as providing someone with new ways to contribute to organizational success.  When I know I am contributing at an elevated level I become more engaged with greater productivity.   It feels good to do a good job, especially when you have had to work harder and think in order to do so!

Challenge Your Key Employees in New Ways

Let’s challenge our leaders to provide progression to their business critical talent in different ways.  Break routines and give people the chance to expand their horizons inside your organization so they don’t need to go elsewhere.  Status quo is boring (no offence to the English 80’s rock band!) – your best people want to be challenged.  Everyone has interests, tap into them, provide them the platform to influence change, improve process, launch projects or simply expose them to different conversations within the business.  Have them do a job exchange with a peer for a week, provide them with continuing education – the options are endless and often inexpensive.

It sounds so simple, yet so often ignored.  Let’s face it, the reason we often limit progression is because people are doing a great job in their current role, and we like the comfort that affords our organization.  Fast forward though and you normally end up with a much bigger problem on your hands – your star employee now works for your competitor, bringing fresh ideas and renewed drive to support their new found competitive advantage.
Small things matter and demonstrating to your key people that you want them to progress is a cost effective way to improve retention, raise engagement and better your organization.  Whatever you do though, if you make a commitment to help someone progress, you better follow through, or they will go even quicker than if you had done nothing at all!