Every talented person we bring in to interview faces an important question we need to ask.
Why are you leaving your current employer?
At this point, after years of interviewing dozens of professionals, it's practically guaranteed that we hear two answers.
- "I feel stuck in my current role and have no position to advance to."
- "I don't learn anything new anymore, so I feel unchallenged."
As an employer, I was concerned to hear these common reasons for employee turnover. Obviously, we don't want to lose our team members for these same reasons.
Unfortunately, these two issues are actually more pervasive in the workforce than I thought.
The Stagnant Employee Epidemic
The employee experience is suffering from these two problems on a large scale. In fact, Gallup’s recent study found the top reason people leave is career advancement and promotional opportunities.
Additionally, Korn Ferry’s 2018 study found the top reason people are looking for new jobs this year is boredom. A staggering one in three employees say, “I’m bored. I need a new challenge.”
Not giving your staff chances to learn and grow won’t just lead to eventual turnover; it will also cause widespread disengagement. When I first committed to building a growth-oriented organization and set the goal of scaling our team from 25 to 75 employees within a year, I knew we needed something in place to address these common negative employee experiences.
Sure, offering free snacks and playing ping pong is great, but we want our staff to grow with us as the organization grows. We needed to get employees excited about being at Bluleadz for the long term.
How to Scale Your Team As a Growth Oriented Organization
When you're growing a business, talent is arguably your most valuable piece of the puzzle. If you're treating employees as assets and replaceable cogs in the machine, they're going to seek greener pastures.
Letting employees hit a dead end in their professional and financial goals will cause your organization to hit a dead end as well.
A growth oriented culture needs to strive for growth at an individual level to fully realize big picture progress.
Provide Clear Career Advancement Opportunities.
The more we interviewed people and heard about employees feeling stuck, the more it became apparent that we needed to make changes to ensure this didn't happen to us moving forward.
We actually did experience some turnover because of this very reason over the course of a few years. While our turnover was never high, those who did leave felt stuck.
Most of our interviewees said they felt like they hit a ceiling with both compensation and responsibilities.
So to ensure we kept our team members and to attract new awesome talent, we started building a system.
First, we knew we needed a structure our employees could use to visualize what their growth here looked like. So we defined each role and built our entire organizational chart.
Brittany Balog, our client services manager, played an essential role in developing this chart and building a career matrix for every position. So every employee can see exactly what their purpose was and what milestones to strive for within each competency.
After creating this structure for a whole quarter, our leadership rolled it out to the employees. The best part about career matrixes is that they cater to each individual's personal interests.
For those who are ambitious and want to advance into higher ranking roles, they can visualize what exactly they need to do in each competency.
For example, if an inbound marketing consultant (IMC) wants to move up to become an inbound marketing strategist (IMS), they can see what certifications they need to complete and what expertise they need to further develop to be considered for an IMS role.
For those who are the craftsman type, who want to stay in their current role and focus on getting better at their core competencies, they can focus on getting better at specific skills and boost their compensation and earn higher ranking job titles.
For example, a junior copywriter can dedicate themselves to take on more responsibility and write for more accounts to eventually work their way up to senior copywriter.
This system works for us because our employees know they can create the career they want at Bluleadz. And with matrixes, they know exactly how to do that and what to expect in terms of compensation and responsibility.
Pro Tip: Unless you're VC funded, providing career paths and growth opportunities is predicated on profitability and availability of funds. Simply put, you need profit to fuel your employees' growth.
Develop a plan that accounts for cash flow, resources, and budget to determine how much opportunity you can present for each career path. This helps you identify what percentages you can afford to offer for compensation increases.
Empower Employees With Educational Resources.
Even if employees don't want to necessarily be your next leader, they still want to learn. Otherwise, doing the same tasks every day can be boring, which leads to disengagement.
To keep our employees enthusiastic about their work, we provide educational resources and foster a learning culture. For example, we will pay for books they want to read that they know can help them in their current position.
But on a larger scale, helping employees develop new skills and build on their expertise while growing a business requires a learning management system (LMS).
We use Piiq by Cornerstone to help each of our employee do the following:
- Set quarterly goals for themselves.
- Plan for one-on-one check ins with leadership.
- Conduct self-reviews on five competencies we measure.
- Provide 360 feedback on their teammates.
- Participate in online courses through the learning library.
The courses provided through the library cover every competency, ranging from communication and leadership skills to stress management and Adobe InDesign.
This software makes it easy for employees to go above and beyond. We look at this system during our quarterly reviews to identify those who are most ambitious.
Using an LMS puts the onus on your staff. The sky is the limit for them. All they have to do is put in the time to learn and grow.
But this wasn't simply implemented and accepted overnight. After all, many companies tend to promote offerings like this, but they don't follow through.
We wanted to prove this wasn’t just lip service and that it actually yielded results. And after a couple of quarters, our staff learned to trust the system as they see it tied to their performance reviews and to their compensation. In fact, we also offer cash bonuses to employees who complete certifications outside of office hours.
Pro Tip: When you invest in an LMS, establish a process that maps professional development in a way that your staff can tailor to their needs and interests. So if your salespeople want to work their way up to sales management, they can take specific online courses on leadership to develop the skills they need to fit that future role.
When it comes to growing a business, employee development is necessity. Employees who have the resources and the ability to develop new skills and advance both in position and in pay will want to stay and grow with you.
Eric is the CEO / Founder of Bluleadz. His passion is growing businesses and listening to Jimmy Buffet. Oh yeah, and golf when he can find the time.