Monday, January 31, 2011

Key People: Unlocking the Mysteries - part #3

Every company I know wants to retain it’s key people and multiple their potential. The best CEOs recognize that these individuals are valuable and critical to short and long term success. But when I visit with key young people, as I often do, they privately will ask me a very good question, “Why should I grow old with this company?”

Now, there are certain generations who have assumed that once you get a “good job” you are done. You become a company man or woman and follow the company line. Key people do not always walk this path. They seek challenge and transformation. Ruts do not suit them at all.

What I have come to realize from my meetings with these individuals is that they seek out excellent coaching but they also seek out superb mentors. Their coaches help them with their work based performance. Their mentors help them with their life and career management.

Next, key people do not want to be cuddled or babied. They want sound and thoughtful feedback. They want to know where to get better and do not flinch from honest appraisal.

I met one for lunch recently. It was a three way meeting between them, their boss and myself. Once we were seated, I wanted to reach across the table and give this young person the proverbial 1950’s dope slap across the back of the head. First, they were chewing gum and, second, they did not bring paper to take notes. This individual has lots of potential but was still a bit rough around the edges when it comes to such a meeting.

Afterwards, I took them aside and pointed out how their lack of awareness could have sent the wrong message. They thanked me and got the point instantly. Since then, they have done much better in being prepared. It was a small thing but for key people this level of feedback is a valuable thing. Loyalty to a company begins with thoughtful support, encouragement and respect from a supervisor.

This week, I encourage all senior executive to answer the question, “Why grow old with this company?” Career management with key people is just as important as job performance. Mentoring the best takes time, but the ROI is time well spent.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates # 319 - 643 - 2257

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