Ways to Grow/promote Talent in Small Companies other than Management Roles
If you are in a little company, there aren't enough people to give people career growth by asking them to manage people. However, your great employees who want management experience or promotion opportunity can leave and go somewhere bigger where they can get this chance/experience.
What can a small company do so that it engages, retains and grows its talent that if the company was bigger would be promoted into management roles?
As a young professional I gained most from participating (assisting in small ways but most importantly simply attending and observing) key meetings: board discussions, presentations to key clients.
My junior colleagues gain a more comprehensive and nuanced view of what is going on, and how their day-to-day job fits into everything. More meaning = better engagement.
The scope here raises three ideas (which I think are interesting.....):
- what is a "small company" in today's context?
- how do the constraints of being 'small' relate to skill development and/or management experience?
- what are the employee priorities -- immediate and near-term (2-3 years)?
- limited number of employees?
- early stage and/or startup?
- focused on a niche market; boutique, specialized (business model as collection of niche firms)
- franchises -- part of a larger nework
I'd pose that many 'small companies' are part of a larger ecosystem. Consider partners, customers, suppliers, local/national associations, government/public (incl. economic development), etc. Each of these could provide opportunities for gaining experience.
- simple vs. complex business model (e.g. few departments, limited scale, low volumes, few exceptions)
- type of people involved and/or diversity (e.g. everyone's age 24-28, people with greatly differing values and/or work priorities; level of experience and/or risk taking, etc.
- nature of the work -- transactional, operational. And, there' just might be few team-based efforts or management activities to perform
I'd pose that each could be overcome by adjusting one of several filters:
- timeframe (one week vs. month, quarter, or year
- business scope - individual company vs. include partners and/or others
- stakeholders and/or targets for whatever efforts are viable: community leaders, university / teaching, special research project, potential investors, current owners/investors, new/different department head
If workers aspire to management roles, would the small company be the right place for them anyway (currently, or out a couple years)? For example, if someone aspired to run a region of stores/restaurants, would they choose to work at a single-location establishment or start off at a chain?
What does the employee consider 'managing'? Must it be over the HR functions (recruit, train, oversee, direct-collaborate, measure/evaluate?), or does the person want to lead (responsible for a certain result, plan, assign, facilitate, coordinate a group, be spokesperson...)
Does the person want exposure (awareness, learning, getting an inside view) or actual experience? Different actions would be needed for each. I've seen where a junior assignment, special project, mentored stretch goal was set up....but, the person really wanted just to see what's it like to be in different roles or levels?
Hope this is helpful -- reach out directly any time as you wish. Michael
At the end, money is a key-motivator. Of course, young talent enjoy interesting projects, travels and positive work environment. But later they want to found families and will look for financial stability. If talents get interesting offers from the big players, smaller companies hardly can compete.
Instead, companies should establish good connection to a limited number of universities to ensure receiving new potential talents, which could be build up, before the leave to the bigger companies. It is similar as in Soccer.
Theory X and Theory Y
'Theory X' and 'Theory Y' are theories of human motivation and management. They were created and developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s.
These theories describe two contrasting models of workforce motivation applied by managers in human resource management, organizational behavior, organizational communication and organizational development.
So, determine the motivation and what drives the employees; and then seek to fulfill.
I agree with your characterization about motivational activities.
I am asking a slightly different question. I want to know when you are in a small company, and there are no more management slots to fill, how you give your key/strong individual contributors some growth opportunity and leadership learning so that they feel they are developing enough to want to stay with the company
you are in quite the cynical mood today David.
Let me pick up on your earlier comments. You said that you can give junior folks pithy projects that have real impact.
how do you think that stands up against being able to talk about their fancy title (which would be inflated if there was not a large enough role) or telling their friends they are managers?
Not cynical at all; just academically and pragmatically experienced. You see, I co-founded and started a firm that grew to 1,350 employees. We tried to go public but the markets crashed in 2008.
HR is a nightmare, and when you finally have good folks, grunts or senior management, they leave for another company as employee, or launch a start-up of their own. I know because that is what I did.
so, to apply your thoughts to my question/problem, I should assume there will be a hefty turnover of the bright and ambitious junior folks and rather than making "make-work" an organization should just create a pipeline of other bright ambitious folks?
that's a different way to look at the problem
More on MH
While the Motivator-Hygiene concept is still well regarded, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are generally no longer considered to exist on separate scales. The separation of satisfaction and dissatisfaction has been shown to be a mere artifact probably as a result of its age [mid-fifties] and rapid growth of domestic industrial jobs after WW-II.
For example, the theory does not allow for individual differences, such as particular personality traits, which would affect individuals' unique responses to motivating or hygiene factors. It is just too simple for the real word - as X and Y seems to persist as more executable, today.
But, X-Y is never the less hard to implement although I always try for the top 20% of all my employees; regardless of industry.
LEADERSHIP CONTEXT RULES
The Queen is leader of the ant hill; until the little Chihuahua dog comes and urinates on it. So, it is all a matter of perspective, limits, operational terms and context.
But, there are more grunts than leaders. And, if leadership could be learned, why are there still more grunts, than leaders?