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How People Grow
“What’s my growth path?” is a common refrain I hear from team members. It’s also a question most business owners struggle to answer.
There’s often misalignment and a mismatch in expectations in how fast people will grow and where they can grow to on an entrepreneurial team, which is why this is such an important thing for leaders to have total transparency about.
I remember, many years ago, when I was working as a unionized cashier for a major grocery chain, increased pay and the choice of shifts were a result of seniority. That meant, as a 19-year-old, I was paid minimum wage to work the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift on Friday nights—despite the fact that I was fast and accurate.
And although many of my co-workers were not as efficient, they had the prime pick of shifts and were paid the most in scale. At that point in my life, it was my only experience of how growth happened in businesses.
The corporate growth ladder.
In the corporate world, the path to growth is well defined and clearly structured.
You start out in a particular role, and if you’re put on the fast track, you could be promoted as quickly as within three to six months. Once you’ve moved into this new capability, depending on how you perform there, you’ll likely move on again. It’s the nature of this world to move quickly through the ranks—you know the hoops you have to jump through in order to be successful.
In many ways, this is great because the expectations are so clear. And yet if you don’t conform to these standards, you may not get very far. The opportunity for individuality and unique contributions is often limited.
Finding yourself in the entrepreneurial world.
On an entrepreneurial team, on the other hand, growth happens according to a different premise. It’s a journey and requires self-determination.
For example, my co-writer, Jayne, started out in a completely different role when she joined Strategic Coach. As a member of the accounting team, she was responsible for accounts payable and various other administrative and logistical tasks.
However, her real passion was in writing, so she started volunteering herself to write blogs for the marketing team in addition to her daily responsibilities. The writing team took notice, and over a one-year period, she was able to navigate herself into a role as a full-time writer.
So how do you coach your team to grow in an entrepreneurial company?
It starts with getting them clear and confident about what we call their Unique Ability®—what they love to do, are best at, and contributes to the overall growth of the company. Once they’re clear on that, it’s about expanding their value creation through their Unique Ability. It’s a very organic process, and it’s your and your team leaders’ job to stay alert to talent and encourage your team to take initiative.
“All growth in an entrepreneurial environment is the result of self-determination.”
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Align expectations with reality.
As an entrepreneur running a successful business, make it top of mind to ensure your team is always on the same page as you.
Be clear with them that in an entrepreneurial organization, no one’s going to lay out their path, and growth has no timelines or ladders to climb. Let people know that additional rewards, compensation, and status come from increasing their value creation and innovating in ways that produce faster, cheaper, easier, and better results.
The largest amount of personal and professional growth is rewarded to team members for the increased contribution their Unique Ability makes. Be open and clear and give your team the opportunity to get innovative with how they create value.
Give your team the most fun, fulfilling, and rewarding experience of their working careers!