Development, Leadership, Pro-Active Planning

Good leaders focus on the success of the company. Great leaders focus on the success of the industry.

Show of hands, who’s heard the famous argument “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers?” (Both of my hands are in the air!). If you ask me, this statement is tired and it’s not as accurate as it once was.

People leave terrible jobs and people leave great jobs. People leave crappy managers, and they leave inspiring ones. The reality is, people will leave and for numerous reasons. So, let’s take a break from focusing on why people leave an organization and take the time to focus on developing skills your team members can use when they leave the organization. Why should we do this? Because investing in a team that will branch out and work at multiple companies supports the growth of an industry.

Good leaders focus on the success of the company. Great leaders focus on the success of the industry.

In October I began to feed Chip both shelled and unshelled peanuts. My reason was two-fold: One, I felt that the roasted peanut buffet was lacking in variety (so, purely for my own entertainment) and two, because I knew that in 3 months Chip would be leaving for the winter.

20181126145802_001 Image: ©Brianna MacLellan

When it comes to training and development, try taking what I like to call the ‘double down’ approach. For every job specific skill you develop, double down and develop one additional industry skill. If we’re playing blackjack, you just split your cards and doubled your return. If we’re referring to commitment, you just doubled down and invested in the future of the company and the industry.

Job descriptions are designed to benefit the company and don’t always take the growth of an individual or an industry into consideration. It’s important for us as leaders to recognize that we, and the company we work for, have limitations and may not be able to foster an individual’s or team’s development for a long period of time. So in the anticipation of turnover, anticipate where your team members might go next.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What is the future of the industry?
  2. What skill sets do my team members have?
  3. What can my team members do with their skills in the future?

In order to answer these questions you will have to take the time to get to know your team members. Where did they grow up? What did they study in school? Do they have siblings? Hobbies? If your team member who works in the customer service department has a degree in Fine Art with a specialization in Integrated Media, would you be open to having them sit-in on the company’s next marketing/digital strategy meeting?

Doubling down will require effort, creativity, and disruption on your part. You may have to make a few phone calls, ask for a larger professional development budget, or leave at 5:20pm instead of 5:00pm because you took the time to look at Bob’s vacation photos. But take the time to get to know your team’s passions, interrogate the future of the industry, and double down. Put a pile of shelled and unshelled peanuts on the table and support your team member’s future – even if it’s a future you won’t be a part of.

Everyone will walk away from the table with something regardless of if, when, or why they leave it. But are you willing to double down and invest in the industry?