Managers Need to Also Be Career Counselors

Ideally, the people you hire have some ambition and are somewhat competitive. This stems far beyond the office softball team or reaching for a promotion. Managers need to recognize that they play a critical role in getting employees where they want to go within the company and beyond.

At Red Door Interactive, we've noticed certain staff members are go-getters, seizing opportunities based on their strengths, but most need help looking at the big picture to really capitalize on them. For the purpose of this blog, we'll define strength as something one is passionate about where the hours seem to go by in an instant. A manager should be able to help an employee harness and foster that passion to ultimately create a stronger workforce. Some of these techniques have worked for us:

Macro-manage. It's important to look at the individual on the macro level, identify and understand their passions and figure out what drives them well beyond cubicles, teams, departments and even companies. For example, if one person really thrives on routine, provide them similar assignments day-to-day. Some managers get caught up in treating an individual like a position, not a person. This is a big mistake. A manager should build on what an employee already does well, instead of try and "fix" what's considered a weakness. Really listening to and reflecting on each individual will help determine what needs to happen in their training and development.

Study trends. Give pause to truly examine where the industry is going and help communicate that to employees. Then identify who should be part of what trend and get them into a career development program. At Red Door, we're constantly monitoring what's new and fresh because Web-based programs are such a moving target. If something is on its last legs, it's up to us managers to get employees prepared for the next big thing. The end result should be both a company and employees with enhanced skill sets.

Be fearless. It's not easy, but as a manager, you have to detach and sometimes realize that your employee might be better suited somewhere else. If you do that, and give them up, one benefit is the next great legion of talent might be knocking at your door. People talk, and could easily say, "This place got me where I am, and now you can work there too." This also goes for new hires, recognizing that great talent won't come to your city, if they don't have another place to go if your company doesn't work out. Let altruism guide you through the management process.

It's hard to forget the great managers who come in and out of your life, and many of them shape where you are in your career today. You remember how they made you feel; inspiring you to reach farther than you thought possible. That's the beauty of career counseling and a real gift to reward those who devote their time to benefit the company.

Reid Carr is president of Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their Web initiatives. Clients include Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp, Petco, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, and Cricket Communications. Connect with him at www.twitter.com/icowboy.

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2 Comments

  • John Ruzicka

    Great points, Reid. I've seen a few companies that also allow for a designated amout of time to work cross-functionally on passion projects or anything that isn't directly related to their primary job (Google and Intuit come to mind). This seems like a great idea to mix up the work week and keep fresh ideas flowing.