I had a question for my @Mumbrella column this week which was from a frustrated line manager who couldn't get her team member to take her advice on advancing her career.
There's only so much I could get into the article and (as usual) I had some more to say on the topic, so I hope you don't mind if I expand on that this week.
I see three likely situations here:
She doesn't want to go in the direction you're pushing
She's disengaged from what she's doing
What you're promising isn't exciting enough for that extra 110%
The question is, WHY do you need her to advance her career?
Is she meeting or exceeding your expectations, and which one do you need her to be doing?
To put it bluntly, will improving her profile and promoting her benefit her, or you?
What’s holding her back? Have you asked?
Does an advance (presume promotion) take her away from doing the work she loves, into the work she doesn't, or is fearful of?
You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. It took me a while to realise that.
I’m a helper, with little patience. It’s not an oxymoron, it means that to thrive I need to work with people who are willing to help themselves. Given the direction, the support, the tools; they will go and do the work needed to keep the momentum going.
You can teach a man to fish, you can buy him a fishing rod, but some people just want you to catch the fish, grill it up nicely and hand it to them on a plate.
Which one are they? And which one do you want to be?
It comes back to a discussion I was having with someone the other day about the definitions of support and leadership etc. This is one I refer to when I am (often!) trying to explain the differences.
Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really good at doing something do it. Counselling is helping people come to terms with issues they are facing. Coaching is helping to identify the skills and capabilities that are within the person, and enabling them to use them to the best of their ability.
Encyclopedia of Theory & Practice in Psychotherapy & Counseling. By Jose A. Fadul (General Editor)
So, I want to help people who want to help themselves.
But others I know would rather work with the people who want a more hands on approach.
I have another coach I work with who is much better at getting people from A to B, whereas I’m more about B to C, and then another person in my network takes them from the C-suite to…
We know our strengths and who can benefit most from them and I'm not precious about saying that I'm not the right person to help everyone.
And you can do the same in your role.
There’s nothing wrong with any approach as an employee or an employer in the right circumstances, it’s a preference and a decision based upon the situation. But it’s a bit like personality types, if you are the kind of person who likes to give hands on advice and you’re working with someone who wants hand on advice, happy days.
If you’re a hands on person and they’re more DIY, not so much.
Ditto if you have expectations of people doing the work themselves in the background, and they expect you to be doing it for them, that relationship is not going to work either.
Personally I’m a DIY-er. When I’m asking for advice, information, support I like to have the conversation, maybe the tools, but then go away and do it myself.
I have clients who call all the time, and clients who I never hear from between one meeting to the next.
Maybe there is a simple way to approach this:
Decide which role you are happiest in – Manager, Mentor, Trainer, Counselor, Coach.
And then ask them (with an explanation), what they are looking for from you.
If the two don’t match, and you can’t adjust accordingly, then I would hope you could match them up with someone else in the company.
I think it’s good for people to have support from all these different ‘characters’ at work – whether they’re peers, bosses, reports or the finance dude. I’m not talking about a monthly meeting with each one, but if you thought about it, could you put a name to the people you go to with issues that need a certain type of support?
And support can mean questions, answers, challenge, a broad shoulder, a cheerleader, a drinking partner, or a running partner.
I digress. That’s another blog.
But have the conversation with them. Do they actually want your help? Does it look bad on you, or put more pressure on you or your team if they don't change what they're doing?
I vividly remember an Ally McBeal scene (and I really didn’t want it that much, honest!), but it stuck with me. One of the lawyers (Ally I presume) was trying to help the one who wasn’t a lawyer, I think she was their office manager (Elaine). Anyway, Ally thought Elaine had aspirations to be a lawyer and so decided to take it upon herself to help make that happen. She was pushing ‘Elaine’ to do more, study more, earn more and I can’t remember the in’s and out’s of it, but the gist of it was that Elaine turned around and put Ally in her place, saying ‘I don’t see this as a role lesser to a lawyer. I see this as a different role. I don't want to be a lawyer, I chose this job. I decided that I wanted a role that would allow me to leave on time, and earn enough money to have a nice apartment, and a great life outside work to do all the things I love. I feel sorry for you guys who are always stressed and working late’” I’m paraphrasing and pretty sure the script was more engaging than this, but for some reason that scene has stayed with me for years.
It was the choice. The choice they’d both made about their priorities, and the expectations of herself that the lawyer was (with all the best intentions) projecting onto the other girl.
So, to your point…at last!
Have you asked this girl what she wants out of her career?
Have you asked her what she wants of you?
Is she doing a great job at the job she’s employed to do?
Does it affect you or your team if she continues in this way?
Does it matter if she stays in this role for the next 5 years?
I have worked with some fantastic do-ers, who are happy to ‘just’ do, and they do it brilliantly. Often there is a need for these people, so just make sure you know why you want the change before you project it onto them.
Some people don’t want to fast track.
As frustrating as that can seem, find out why and if it works then figure out how to leverage that.
As always, it’s your choice.
You can push them up, push them out or leverage their skills and career goals to everyone's advantage.
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(C) KATE.SAVAGE @ ELBOW ROOM GROUP 2015