Companies recognize their C-Suite, VP, Director, Manager and even Supervisor titles with enthusiasm, and… compensation structures aligned to those tributes. But the unsung heroes of many organizations are the individual contributors that have chosen not to climb a ladder that leans against the people-leader titles. Instead, many of these critical employees have accumulated vast amounts of understanding, experience, expertise and instinct about how to encourage, influence, execute and measure success in the organization or market where they have put down roots. People at all levels of the business siphon data, ideas, confirmations and learning from these ‘go-to’ professionals everyday – and yet they often remain below sight-level and are rarely rewarded or recognized for their career of company stewardship.
Today, find a couple of people that fit this general description and tell them what you’ve seen them do that makes a difference to the business, to the productivity of people around them or to you. If you haven’t observed closely enough to sincerely describe the details, then find their boss or someone who has, and do some research. If no one in your company is close enough to observe the specifics of their contributions, that’s a shame and possibly a danger.
We often neglect to offer foundational learning opportunities to this segment of our professional population. Providing development in these areas can pay off substantially in their performance: Self-Awareness, Influence, Learning Agility and Effective Communication. These professionals seem to especially appreciate mentoring relationships and personalized learning customized to their unique and immediate needs.
It may not benefit you to blindly promote your individual contributors to a job that eats up all their time on managing people instead of on producing the results they love to produce. Far too many individual contributors abandon the companies where they felt most effective within months of being promoted to people-leaders. Know what motivates your best players; understand what they need, so you can re-recruit them when they get discouraged. If they feel a people-leader position is their next step, a wise effort would be to let them live in those shoes in a ‘temporary’ capacity for several months to confirm their aptitude for it.
So, sing the praises of these people whose resumes are filled with a kaleidoscope of projects, positions, and partnerships that demonstrate their productivity-based accomplishments and reflect their systemic perspectives of how one silo impacts another inside their organization. And, yes, they often do consider it ‘their’ organization; they feel a bit of ownership because they know they make a difference. We can help with effective ways to show you value these unsung heroes. If you lose them, the betrayal they feel will rarely allow them to return.
Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017