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Grow Your Best Employees or Lose Them

Travis McPeak recommends

My friend Travis McPeak had this excellent thread on Twitter, and he gave me permission to reproduce it here.

Obviously company culture, business growth, coworkers, and comp. are all major factors, but I believe personal growth trumps all of these. I invest in growing my top talent with regular growth conversations, here is how they go.

We meet regularly, typically every 1-2 months. Like one-on-ones, I do not cancel these meetings, they are one of the most important things I do as a manager. I keep career growth sessions separate from performance and feedback sessions.

I take off my “manager” and put on my “I want to help you grow” hat. For example, I have recommended that a high performing employee may have better growth opportunities in another team that is about to start a new broadly scoped project.

We start with getting clear about what your dream job in 5 years is. Why 5 years? More than 5 years Man shrugging who knows, less than 5 years isn’t strategic. We want to help you get to your longterm goal.

Once we have a 5 year goal, I’ll ask you (as homework) to come up with three people (friends, leaders, industry, etc) you know that are doing your 5 year dream job. Then we deep dive into what makes these people so great. What are their superpowers?

Now that we have a list of superpowers we prioritize – which superpowers do you want to learn first? We brainstorm a plan to learn. Want to get great at writing? Here are 5 of the best docs at the company. What makes them effective? Let’s analyze together.

I will also identify possible mentors within the company that already have these superpowers. I have found people are overwhelmingly generous with their time if you, as a mentee, take the conversations seriously and show that you are invested in learning.

One of the best outcomes from these meetings is when we can find projects for you to lead that helps the company and team, but also helps you grow the skills you want. There is always work that will let you grow and practice the superpower you are learning.

Finally, I advocate for everybody on the team to “pay yourself first”. Carve out at least a couple of hours of work time each week to practice a skill or learn something new. In the long run these skills are always useful for both you and the team.

One point I’ll clarify– this is all an optional service. Some folks are happy doing what they are doing or don’t want to focus on these discussions and that’s totally fine.