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Employee Development in Flat Organizations

Aug 17, 2007
In team-based organizations, opportunities for promotion come rarely. So how do you provide opportunities for team members to grow and develop? Follow these suggestions:

Enrich the job. Increase the variety of team members tasks, and give them more control over their work. Suggestion: Look both horizontally, team members can learn to operate more pieces of equipment, and vertically, they can take on more management tasks, such as planning.

Encourage lateral transfers. Let them build knowledge by jumping organizational boundaries. Caution: Productivity may dip while team members learn new jobs. However, the payback in motivation and big picture understanding usually offsets such costs.

Develop career pathways. When team members have no career ladder to climb, build a series of pathways that radiate from your team to other teams and departments. In fields where competency comes from years of experience and education, establish ties to other teams, inside and outside your organization. Create reciprocal relationships, you train their people in certain areas, and they train your people. This allows team members to progress in their fields of expertise, instead of having to move into management if they want to earn bigger salaries. Suggestion: Identify levels of knowledge and contribution in each technical area. Then identify appropriate training and experiences that can lead a worker from one level of participation to another. Increase pay for a specific team member as he or she moves across the web.

Design new roles. With a little creativity and flexibility, organizations can let team members design new roles. Share your organizations challenges with team members and ask what they have to contribute. What can they do to add value? You may be surprised at the wealth of ideas that employees pigeonholed in limiting jobs can come up with.

Assign mentors to junior employees. Mentors give less experienced employees the opportunity to learn from seasoned veterans. Employees will be more comfortable in the face of new challenges if they know where to go for help. Mentors can inspire employees to strive for greater levels of success, help them channel their ambitions, and teach them new ways of handling ongoing problems more effectively.

Offer tuition reimbursement. By supporting your employees desire to educate themselves, you will increase the knowledge base within your company. In the long term this can make internal operations more efficient, reduce the need to outsource for expertise, and help your company stay ahead of industry and market trends.

Emphasize and encourage development. Performance appraisals and regularly scheduled reviews are perfect occasions to set goals and discuss expectations. Ask your employees what they have learned, what new responsibilities they have taken on, and which opportunities they are interested in for the future.
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Pj Germain The Mindshift Message
Your Powerbox
Discipline of Market Leaders
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