by Gary Payne, Robert Satterwhite, and Ann Wheeler
Middle managers need to be sold on the culture and vision of your organization. When your middle managers are going to model organizational behaviors and values, it’s critical to win over their hearts and minds, and keep them motivated.
To do so, your company should:
People are motivated by purpose, particularly the younger generation. In a 2021 Deloitte survey, out of 8,273 Gen Z respondents, 49% said they chose their careers and employment based on their personal ethics.
Motivation is not solely about career advancement; people want to feel like they are adding value, meaning, and purpose within the company and beyond. They want to feel proud of their work.
Your company communications, both internal and external, need to be consistent and highlight the impact your organization is making.
Motivation is different for each individual.
Some might be driven by a promotion, while others want to avoid boredom; they fear growing stale in their career. They want to be innovators as opposed to overseers.
Take opportunities during scheduled check-ins, quarterly assessments, and year-end reviews to ask your middle managers about the vision for their careers and how that vision fits within both their current roles and potential future roles.
Whether they are striving for career advancement, or they want to expand their skillset, help them define what drives their passions and their individual goals, so your organization can create opportunities and projects to keep them interested and engaged in their work.
Many organizations see the value in dedicated mentorship programs, but it’s important to remember that people can have many mentors who will help them with various aspects of their career.
Encourage your middle managers to establish and build different relationships and get multiple sources of input.
Helping middle managers progress their career path involves three key factors:
As you are working with middle management and attempting to identify those who could grow into even greater leadership roles, it’s important to establish your criteria and competency model.
A common challenge for organizations is identifying leadership potential early enough in an individual’s career path. Often by the time they have been identified, it’s too late to ensure they get enough diverse experience to fulfill those leadership qualifications.
Assessment still needs to be viewed as an internal employee investment. The hiring rigor of qualifications needs to be applied equally to all promotions. If you want to retain the majority of your employees, it goes without saying that you need to treat people fairly and consistently.
When you are assessing internal employees for a role, make sure to communicate that you are using the exact same standards as you would for external employees. Give every internal candidate feedback throughout the process, especially if they aren’t chosen for the position.
Use the assessment process as an additional development tool, so you can build upon that feedback and provide the resources or a coach to help your internal hire candidates continue to develop.
When internal hires are promoted, they are already embedded within the organization’s DNA. There tends to be an expectation they will hit the ground running when you might give more leeway to an external hire. But as we noted earlier, that can be a weird mirage of success; it becomes very easy to fail under the burden of presupposed expectations. What made an internal hire successful in their previous role will be different from the KPIs of their new role.
Give your internal hires the same grace period you would extend to external hires:
Leadership also has to ensure the proper amount of focus is being put on strategic change and initiatives. If you want to create a coaching culture where there’s mutual team accountability, you need to create processes to support that philosophy.
Below are some questions to consider as you reexamine your current leadership development program:
At the end of the day, retaining your employees through leadership development is good risk management. You want to develop a deep bench of leaders that your organization can use to propel its growth and ultimately plot its succession plan.