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I thought we were management to be?

We have all met the one. The one who gets us. The one who can read our minds. The one who gets undivided attention and kudos. (For those of you who remember the 80s, all the KUDOS®. I’ll let you look that up on YouTube.)

She is the employee who is easy to manage. He is a high-performer. They are the loyal and self-reliant, up and comers who we give greater responsibilities and freedoms. We see a future together. We started dreaming of new organizational charts and practice writing new titles in cursive in our planners during important meetings.

But then, we find out they never felt the same way.

Oh, the heartbreak of the unrequited org chart of the future.

Photo by  jurien huggins  on  Unsplash

It happens all the time. We treat high-performers as a given, and a long-term fit, but they are often the ones with their eyes open wider than ours. Where we see a future together, they are on a path we are not a part of. Their loyalty is true, but their aim is not the same as ours.

If we could go back, what would we do differently? Sure we are proud of our mentoring skills, and the accomplishments chalked up as a team, but is that enough?

What if we just ask a few simple questions? Not as part of a procedural HR review, but as a part of a conversation.

  1. How can I help get you where you want to go?

  2. Where do you want to be in a few years, even if it’s not here?

  3. What can we do to make this organization better for someone like you?

Listening and learning about our high-performers goals is invaluable, and they may even lead us to the next stepping stone in our own careers.

To borrow and bastardize a quote I saw next to a picture of a seagull,

“If you love an employee, set them free if they come back, maybe, just maybe, it was management to be.”