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Getting Older? Growing Wide may not be such bad thing.
Today, it’s possible that three, four, even five generations could be working within your company at the same time. They’re called Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z and they all look at their careers differently.
As a business owner, it’s your job to provide an environment to keep all of them engaged–because the level of your employee’s engagement is directly related to your company’s success.
In the past, career growth was synonymous with promotions and raises. There was a clear “ladder” to climb to the corner office. But now it doesn’t make sense to become top-heavy with disproportionate layers of management (did it ever?).
And you may not be ready to retire yet, so there is nowhere to promote people to anyway. Someday, however, you may want to retire. So how do you develop and nurture the ‘next’ generation of leaders in your company, when moving up is not an option? Luckily, traditional hierarchy may not be the best answer.
As your business moves through maturity, you may need to grow ‘wider.”
Playing to each individual’s strengths, find ways to offer them opportunities or responsibilities across different functions of your organization. By doing so, you’ll not only benefit the employee by “cross-promoting” him or her, but you’ll benefit by having more people who understand more aspects of the business. Providing training, coaching and mentoring opportunities can help your employees develop skills they desire as well learning on the job.
One thing to remember, growing wider is not a time for micro-management. You’ll want to avoid the trap of assuming that if someone “doesn’t do it the same way that I did…” they are lazy or incompetent. That can be hard if you are used to doing it all. Instead, embrace the fact that there are different ways of solving problems or getting things done.
Each generation also feels differently about what they want out of their jobs, and it’s not just about the paycheck and the title. Most people want to grow and develop themselves along the way, and they all need different things from you as a leader.
The best way to find out specifically how to motivate your team is to have individual conversations. Conversations where you become the listener. Then you can find ways to add value to both the employee and the company.
For some it may be perks, for some it may be flexibility, for some it might simply be acknowledgment of their contribution. For all, it’s important to make sure you are clear about what you and your company stand for – through your actions, not just a mission statement on a plaque on a wall.
It’s vital you give your staff something to believe in, aside from their paycheck. That way they stay engaged and your company remains in a healthy position when it’s time for someone to fill your shoes, and beyond.