by Chris Castillo
You have a lot of responsibilities as a manager. While you’re delegating projects, approving time off requests, and making your own presentations, it’s easy to forget that a key part of managing employees is about guiding their development.
In fact, I was running a management training a few weeks back, and I was struck by how many people in the room were so stuck in the “busy” mode as a manager that they forgot why they were managers in the first place!
With the influx of Millennials and GenZ in the workplace, career development is a hotter topic now than ever. It’s no wonder, either! As Aaron Hurst, author of “The Purpose Economy,” told The Economic Times, “84% of American Millennials are seeking purposeful work and they will represent 75% of the American workforce by 2025”. Employees with a why behind their work are more engaged, make less mistakes, and are overall happier.
So, what can you do as a manager to help your team find more fulfillment?
First of all, remember that your employees don’t need to be in inherently purposeful roles to find meaning. What I mean by that is that you don’t have to work at a non-profit or be in an altruistic industry to find purpose. Really, purpose is about is finding fulfillment in your work because it’s allowing you to do the things you love the most. The things that are the most you. As a manager, you don’t have to change your employees’ role entirely; you simply need to help them do more of the stuff they love.
To do this, start by helping them get clear on what that is. Sit down with your employees and start a conversation about what tasks they like, which ones they don’t like, and why. Are there any themes that you can pull from the why?
For example, back when I worked in mobile media planning at an advertising agency, a lot of my day was spent on partner meetings, brainstorming, and negotiation. It was fine, but I didn’t feel much about it. Eventually, though, our company realized that in order to scale, we needed to train more employees on my particular discipline. As a result, I spent months creating a certification course in mobile media planning and rolling it out to our employees. I loved it, and that first exposure to training led me on the path I’m on today. I adored creating the certification program because I loved teaching, being in front of a classroom, and seeing the impact of my work. I enjoyed seeing the light in attendee’s eyes when they realized that they could now do something that they didn’t know how to do before.
Pulling out the themes of teaching, motivation, and individual impact, it’s no wonder that I now am the owner of Empowered Achievers, my career coaching and development business where I work with companies and individuals alike to help drive meaningful work.
That is what you have the ability to do as a manager. Ask your employees about what they love, what they hate, and why, and learn as much as you can. If they love teaching, is there a way that you can help them take up more of that within your team? Could you have them share a tip that they’ve learned at your weekly team meetings?
If your employee loves thinking of innovative solutions, is there a way for them to get more of that in their role, or help out on another team within the business to get this need met?
Remember that your job as a manager is to help your employees find long-term fulfillment, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and engagement unlike anything you’ve ever seen. There is only so long that an employee can stay in a role that’s not fulfilling to them, so do your best to ensure your role meets their needs. Otherwise they’ll be looking for the next big thing, and you’ll be stuck hiring backfill.