Whether you are cultivating your employer brand through social media, posting for a job because someone quit, or examining your staffing needs for growth, workforce issues require constant care. Being a hiring manager puts you in the unenviable role of staffing gardener —planting seeds here, watering there, maybe even some necessary pruning. With eyes focused on the goal of long-term success for your credit union, you are continuously strategizing and making decisions to attract, develop and retain top talent. As long as your business is evolving, the process of protecting and growing your garden never ends. You may have determined which departments can take on fresh, inexperienced seedlings and which cannot. Making room for enthusiastic new hires often compels managers to implement changes; it also propels many to take an active role in growing the credit union by promoting their existing superstars. But should they? How readily can your staff accommodate new situations, new colleagues and new business practices?
When considering employees for promotions, we look first at how effective they are in their current roles. It’s an important place to start—along with making sure they are productive, engaged and committed to a career with your organization—but we don’t always look at whether they truly want to take on leadership responsibilities. Some people are excellent at what they do, but they value predictability and don’t necessarily want to move up the corporate ladder. If you are an ambitious go-getter, it can be hard to believe that others don’t share your goals.
Some people are content to perform the same job year after year or to advance in a less traditional way. Not all growth means movement into management. Most employees do want to grow professionally. Some might set modest goals for themselves but want to continue developing as an individual contributor. They’re loyal, diligent workers. They are also very accommodating and may heartily agree to take on a promotion because it is what you want them to do. They are team players, and they don’t want to let you down. Ultimately, they may end up unduly stressed, unmotivated and unhappy, which can be disastrous in their new role.
You may come to the disturbing realization that the people who performed so well as individual contributors are ineffective as managers. If this happens, it can be difficult for them to go back to their old job for fear of looking like a failure, causing you to lose a great employee. Know your staff’s abilities and their career goals. Don’t make the mistake of imposing leadership career objectives on someone who does not have them. It is often best to fill positions of authority with people who are enterprising, ambitious, assertive, and self-confident.
Before offering a promotion to an employee, ask yourself these questions: 1) Does your candidate really want to move up?; 2) What kind of work approach, personality and pace does the job require?; and 3) Does the person you have in mind exhibit those traits?
Promoting a great person into the wrong job will create stress, confrontations, confusion, worry and resentment. If you want peace of mind, make sure you research your needs and analyze your employees to help ensure a good mutual fit.
Even when we feel solid in our staffing bench strength, unexpected situations can arise and grow beyond our control. A health issue or family crisis can erupt. A new enterprise or a sudden desire to cast aside the pressures of business and pursue long-held personal dreams has compelled countless leaders to do what they never thought they would do: step down from their job. Some ensured a smooth and cost-effective transition of power by implementing their succession plans. Too many others caused pandemonium and lost money because there wasn’t a plan in place.
It’s possible that someday one of your own staff members may need to take over your job. Do you currently have people in place who are (or could be) qualified and ready to do so?
Your short-term goal should be to cultivate a crop of leaders. Look for employees who show potential to make independent decisions, act on their own behalf and take action in the face of adversity. However, that can be more difficult than it seems.
For example, a person who is openly enthusiastic, talkative and comfortable in the spotlight might seem like a good choice to take charge of others, but be careful. The high level of self-confidence and leadership ability you think you see may only be social assertiveness, a comfort around people and an ability to engage an audience. Make sure there are also signs of determination, ambition, and resolve. People whose greatest strength is their social savvy often talk a bigger game than they can play.
The effects of poor preparation can be widespread and may vary from a withered customer/member base, unimpressive yields in sales and reduced morale. Careful cultivation of your staff allows your credit union to flourish. The key lies in knowing your needs, not guessing, and being certain about the work habits, objectives and personalities of the people who surround you. This helps you weed out problems and make room for growth.
The future of any organization depends on the green-thumb strategies you have in place today.