I strongly believe in promoting growth amongst your employees. I think it is one of those things that separates managers from leaders. It’s not enough for leaders to just talk about the importance of growth, they must actually act on it by helping their employees grow.
Recently I was involved in a situation with another manager regarding the growth of one of their employees that infuriated me and served as my inspiration for this post. I have an open position on my team that an employee from another team reached out to me to find out about applying for. It is company policy that all internal applicants speak with their manager before applying to more or less give them a heads up to prepare for their possible departure from the team. I told this employee that the position was still open, but that they needed to apply through the proper process (i.e. talk to their manager). To make a long story short, their management is making the application approval way more difficult than it needs to be. This got me thinking about reasons why managers would make it hard on employees to move into other opportunities where they can continue to grow by learning new skills.
As a leader, I have a lot of issues with this. In general, managers talk about how we want our employees to grow, however in practice this is frequently not the case. Often managers find ways of preventing employees from applying to other positions within the same company because they feel the team could not function if that person left (read: it would make life more difficult for the manager because they would have to find a replacement) or out of fear that the employee may surpass them in terms of success. Why should employees be punished for mismanagement of teams though? It is the job of a leader to not only encourage employees to grow, but also to have succession plans in place for the day employees decide to move on to another opportunity. As far as the fear aspect goes, managers need to put their egos away and think about what is best for their employees.
While I would hate to see anyone from my team leave because I really enjoy working with all of them, I truly want them to grow. From the moment I stepped into this supervisor position, one of my top priorities has been to ensure we have other backups on the team who have some knowledge of the program. In addition, our processes are well-documented (including all of that tribal knowledge that can only be gained from experience). This will ensure that my team will go on as people move up within the organization.
I’d like to challenge all of the leaders out there to encourage your employees to grow and to not stand in there way when they find the right opportunity that will enable them to do so. Have you ever had a manager who tried to block you from opportunities? Any advice on how to deal with other managers who practice this?