4 Ways to Develop Employees Who Don’t Want to Be Managers

Not everyone wants to become a manager, nor is everyone cut out to be one. When a CareerBuilder survey found that only a third of American workers aspire to management roles, it debunked a standing assumption about our desire for advancement. Further, only 7% were aiming for C-suite leadership roles. Even when an employee is promoted based on individual success, that doesn’t necessarily translate into that worker being a great manager. 

There’s a lot to be said for making those opportunities and requirements available, but sometimes an employee would prefer pursuing a role as a specialist to securing one in leadership. 

Career pathing allows employees to indicate their desired role and inform their managers of their career goals. After understanding a desired role, a skill gap analysis is provided to the employee and development options are presented to the employee as an action plan to close the gap. 

4 Ways to Continue Growth for a Specialist

Career pathing allows the employer and employee to work together to create a personalized plan for progressing skills and development. When workers can focus on reaching a desired role, employee engagement drastically improves. Most employees highly value employer-provided learning opportunities that show which skills need to be improved and provide development options to develop those skills.

By aligning top performers with their desired specialist roles, employers will benefit by keeping that talent in their organization. An American Express report found that 61% of millennials find the prospect of a C-Suite position appealing, compared to 46% of Gen Xers. On the other hand, 35% of millennials who plan to leave their job in the next two years cited lack of advancement as their reason for leaving, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey.

Here are four strategies to develop employees who don’t wish to be managers:

  1. Identify nontraditional career paths. 

The proverbial corporate ladder — where employees only go up or down — is a relic of the past organizational mindset. Some employees get more benefit from departmental career shifts.

For example, it might not be immediately obvious how someone in marketing might thrive in operations. But the company might find that an employee has transferable skills, and the shift to a new department might energize the worker and benefit the company.

It’s OK to get creative with top talent. Few people want to stay in the same role for years with no new opportunities. Be open to how one skill set might apply to other roles so the employee always has options.

  1. Make career development an open conversation. 

Speaking of options, make sure they’re widely known within the company. Many employees miss advancement opportunities just because they were unaware of the necessary information. That smothers employee engagement and keeps employers from moving essential talent into open roles.

In your company, be open about what opportunities are available and how employees can create opportunities for themselves. On-site learning experiences might include mentoring, trainings, seminars, or job rotations. Pay for employees to get outside training that they can share with the company as a whole — this can include lectures, e-learning, or college courses. Make it obvious that your company promotes employee growth, and employees will be more likely to take advantage of it.

  1. Recognize employee wins. 

According to a ten-year global study by OCTanner, 79% of people quit their jobs because they do not feel appreciated at their current companies.

People want to be recognized for their hard work and achievements. In fact, nothing inspires people more than applause for their accomplishments, not even raises or promotions. 

 Make a big deal out of wins, growth, and successes. Plan parties, hang up plaques — whatever works for your culture.

  1. Allow employees to challenge themselves. 

It’s easy to fall into a rhythm of expecting employees to do the same thing day in and day out. After all, it’s working so well!

Except it’s not. Talented employees want challenges. They want to test their skills, learn new ones, and even, in the right environment, fail. Give them new projects, open up new trainings, and ask them what they would like to do next. 

With two-thirds of the workforce happy to stay out of management, it’s up to companies to keep figuring out ways to keep them growing and happy. Career pathing with your employees will help everyone see opportunities that will ultimately be a boon for employees and employers.

Photo by Marius Ciocirlan on Unsplash