It’s okay to behave differently
To say that most leaders concern themselves with the vast life goals of their team would be a gross exaggeration, sadly. It isn’t a typical approach. But let’s take a moment and examine some of the benefits that might come from being a resource and guide to our employees. First, when we ask what an employee’s career aspirations are, we’re showing that we care about them as more than merely an employee – we see them as a capable person. And once they understand that we want to invest in their future, it’s very likely that their entire view of leadership will shift. No longer will you be the “slave driving” manager who is merely concerned with meeting deadlines and expectations. No, now you will be their ally. And since you have different resources at your disposal, we could take that a step further: you can be an ambassador for that employee.
The cycle of success
By passing on your knowledge and connections in useful ways to help this person achieve her goals, you’ll rise above the ordinary and become a role model for those around you. And once you rise above the ordinary expectations for leadership, you’ll be surprised how the behavior spreads. Soon, many of the other people around you will set their own standards higher as the trend continues. And even though the employee might end up leaving your company to pursue his goals, imagine the positive things he will say about you and your company to his friends. Lets now assume that one of his friends decides to work at your company because of the things he heard from that friend. It’s easy to see how a cycle can begin that sends a steady flow of new talent into your company – all because you were willing to risk letting that first employee go when they outgrew their position. It may sound counterintuitive at first, but the long-term benefits are very real.
It’s your choice
Would you rather have an employee leave your company because he or she finds a better job? Or would you rather have that same employee leave your company for a better job because you helped to develop and mentor them? The point is, this employee will exit your company one day either way (unless, of course, you have room for promotions), the only difference is that in the second scenario you’ll end up with an ex-employee who happens to be a part-time cheerleader for your brand. The choice to be an employee ambassador is yours.