Many publications recognize companies who achieve rapid year-over-year increases in revenue with a “Fastest Growing” moniker. But such growth can be fleeting. Less than 10% of the Inc.5000 Fastest Growing Companies in 2011 continued that recognition for five consecutive years. Of the top 25 that year, only SingleHop, a cloud hosting services provider, made the list in 2016 – and they came in at number 4953.
Our unique employee-centered vision at Andesa demands we strive for a different kind of growth. We are expected to create an environment which encourages and facilitates employees to develop and apply their business skills to the fullest, in order to achieve their full potential.
So to test our vision, I engaged with six employees who have progressed in their careers during their time at Andesa, including a few who have changed career paths.
Their stories inspired me, and their advice encouraged me to create a two-part blog: Part 1 (previously published) focused on advice to employees new to their role in an organization. This entry, Part 2, provides counsel to leaders and managers as shared by employees who thrive on initiative and engagement.
The conversation with my teammates reminded me of one of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes: “Employers & business leaders need people who can think for themselves, who can take initiative and be the solution to problems.” I loved chatting with my teammates about their growth. Speaking of LOVE, the acronym may help remind you of their advice:
- Look inward
- Obsess over learning
- Eliminate “Head Trash”
For many of my colleagues, they recognized their growth was both a personal as well as a professional journey. They shared growth occurred by recognizing their passion and skills while eliminating those things which were not advancing their talents. For some, Andesa was their first job in a professional setting, and they had to “mature” professionally. “As I grew personally, opportunities within Andesa grew for me.” Others remarked that challenging times offered opportunity for growth and provided affirmation that the individual had grown.
Advice to leaders: Seek to understand your team. Helping someone uncover a hidden talent is highly rewarding. Regular conversations about the work, the business needs and the individual’s personal passions may provide a tremendous opportunity for growth.
Obsess Over Learning:
Every story focused on learning as a key element in development. But the conversations emphasized a sense of learning on steroids. A high degree of self-motivation was evident in statements such as, “I don’t like to do the same things every day so I challenged myself to learn more,” or “it is more fun and fulfilling when I have to wrestle with a problem – I love the fight to gain knowledge.” A common theme of a willingness to train others also emerged – “because people were willing to help me, I want to share my knowledge with the new staff.”
Advice to leaders: Create space for learning and growth. Provide an environment which encourages questions and departmental mentoring. Formal training can help, but challenging high performers to fail and figure things out can provide an even greater learning situation.
Be proactive in your growth. “I was applying my experience and took an interest in a project. It allowed me to utilize my talents and learn a lot.” One has to be open and willing to new challenges – to have a desire to figure things out. Often the personal and professional growth occurred because the company grew and the position evolved into greater responsibility. Do your job, but when provided the opportunity, you have to want to say “yes – chose me!”
Advice to leaders: Create an environment that provides opportunities but allows individuals to struggle with challenges. When possible, promote from within – doing so provides for an easier transition, retains valuable knowledge in the organization and is extremely empowering to the individual.
Eliminate “Head Trash”:
Each of my colleagues shared anecdote upon anecdote of overcoming self-doubt as they travelled their growth journey. I was struck by the consistency of the negative self-talk stories from a group of teammates who are progressing nicely along their career path and from whom you wouldn’t assume such uncertainty. Each offered the difficulty of overcoming fear – sometimes toward the challenge and expectations of the new opportunities, and in one case having the courage to have multiple conversations to convince their manager that the new opportunity was good for the organization.
Advice to leaders: Demand high expectations – high performers will seek to reach them. Provide support and belief in the individual. Several noted that simply because a manager gave them a challenging task, that demonstrated their manager believed in them and that knowledge was enough to overcome their self-doubt – they didn’t want to let that confidence be undeserved.
LOVE, love, loved this conversation.
I emerged from this encounter energized and encouraged, excited for what’s in store for my coworkers and confident Andesa continues to live into the culture we espouse. Andesa is blessed to have so many employees who care, who want to contribute and who desire to make a difference. It was wonderful to spend some time with Jen, Patrick, Chad, Sarah, Colleen and Nick to gain their insights. I look forward to their continued growth.