A recent McKinsey & Company research study showed that the most common reason a person quit their job wasn’t money related, but due to a lack of career development and advancement. It makes sense for those that are still in the growth phase of their career. They see time as a commodity that never replenishes. Without a clear line of sight at a clear career path, they feel their time, and potentially their earning potential is wasted. 

Here are some tips to help you lead your team to meet their individual career development needs. 

Help them see the rock wall

Often times organizations, leaders, and employees think of careers in terms of ladders. They are something that you climb. Especially if you are in a larger organization, help your team think of their career as a rock wall. They can move to the right or left as they gain new skills and experiences or diagonally as they promote up into different parts of the business. 

If your mindset is stuck in terms of ladders, it can be quite frustrating when you have a leader that has been around for 20 years, sitting in their sweet spot of their capability with no intention of vacating anytime soon. A rock wall approach opens up those blockages and allows the person to continue to grow and develop in the process. 

Employees at this stage of their careers appreciate progress and movement. Think differently and help them see a new future that they may not have considered. 

Help them learn the business and skills needed


You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to fully understand the business or know what skills you need to work on if you have no idea where to even begin. There are many ways that you can help your employees learn and grow in their knowledge and engagement in the larger organization.

  • Invite them to larger group meetings, town halls, forums, panels, etc. so that they can begin to see a larger picture of how things work. 

  • Have them work on stretch assignments that pair them with different parts of the business.

  • Look for ways to elevate them among their peers on projects or special assignments. This raises their awareness up a level and helps their peers see the person as a leader. 

  • Look for opportunities to embed the person in another team. It may not be a full-time opportunity, but even less formal connections help the person learn, grow their network, and pick up new skills. 

Support them as they chase curiosity

Ambitious employees are often like sponges that soak up whatever new training or opportunity is thrown at them.  When you see an employee that is showing curiosity about the team, skills, or continuing education, lean in and support them.  If they are working on continuing education, find things that they can do at the company that aligns with what they are learning and studying.  If they are curious about a skill set, partner them with a mentor that can help them learn those skills and send them to specialized training if any is available. 

Recognize them right where they are


A secondary frustration for people in this category is that they often feel like they are going above and beyond and aren’t recognized, or appreciated for their efforts and impacts. 

Be sure to stop, recognize, appreciate, and encourage those that are stepping up in a big way for you. Remember that you can never do these three enough and you are more than likely overvaluing how much you give our appreciation, recognition, and encouragement in the first place.  Recognition, appreciation, and encouragement also don’t have to be big monumental moments, experiences, or gifts. Be mindful to check the box in one of these areas consistently as you interact with others. Small and continual reinforcement of how much you care for and appreciate the other person goes a long way.

You may not have an open role today, but if you are recognizing the talent around you and are proactive to support their curiosity, actively helping them learn the larger business and skills, and unlocking the potential of the rock wall approach, your people will feel more engaged and will stay around longer. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH