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Employee Development Part - 3

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ronald Reagan

Quality organizations strive to provide their employees with ample opportunities for personal and professional growth. Hiring the right people and nurturing their development alongside the company’s growth is vital. Research consistently shows that appreciation and growth are stronger motivators for employees than monetary rewards, leading to reduced turnover, improved customer service, and increased profits. To foster such growth, it is crucial to establish clear performance expectations that enable employees to thrive.

By implementing a transparent system, organizations can demystify the promotion and professional growth process often perceived as biased, unfair, or driven by politics. These misguided beliefs can hinder progress and result in stagnant individuals and organizations. This article aims to shed light on the actions necessary to ascend the organizational ladder and achieve career goals. Sharing this information within your company will communicate to employees that rewards and promotions are earned through merit rather than politicking or mere busyness.

In top-tier organizations, rewards are based on merit, with political factors serving as vehicles for increased visibility. The following framework outlines the typical expectations for employees at various levels, serving as a guide for their personal and professional development. By internalizing these expectations, individuals can make significant strides in their careers, benefiting themselves and the entire organization.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt

Method Appropriate For
Micromanagement (MM)
Individual Contributors (Also appropriate in new working relationships in order to get up to speed on each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and styles.)
Management by Objective (MBO)
Experienced Managers (Including some Supervisors)
Management by Exception (MBE)
Experienced Executives
Business Managers, CEOs, GM, Managing Directors

Expectations of Individual Contributors:

Individual contributors, who form the majority of the workforce, require regular supervision as they focus on simple, repetitive tasks within their functional area. While these employees may not pursue larger objectives independently, they possess essential skills and traits, including problem-solving, effective communication, time management, proactive thinking, and a positive attitude. Although hiring bright individuals is important, all businesses should strive to provide additional compensation for exceptional talent. These contributors should actively seek training and practical experiences to enhance their skills and understanding of the business.

Supervisors – those responsible for managing a small group with specific skill sets – require expertise in hiring, training, and workload planning. While they may be working towards becoming managers, some supervisors may choose to specialize in their role. Their key responsibilities include effective management of their team, maintaining good relationships, and ensuring smooth operations.

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Ralph Nader

Additional Expectations of Managers: (Includes all of the above PLUS:)

Managers, operating with greater autonomy, can be managed by objectives and require less micromanagement. They should possess excellent communication skills, document their work effectively, and be proficient in evaluating, hiring, firing, and training employees within their department. Managers must develop short-term and long-term plans, prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and anticipate the needs of their department in advance. They play a crucial role in fine-tuning performance, delivering projects on time and within budget, and ensuring the high utilization of their team members. Managers exhibit proactive decision-making, continually seeking self-improvement, and demonstrating professionalism, quality, effort, and a positive attitude. They actively foster understanding of other functional areas and maintain strong relationships with superiors, peers, and other stakeholders.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Peter Drucker

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Additional Expectations of Managers: (Includes all of the above PLUS:)

Employees at this level can be “managed by objective” (MBO) and left to “take a small hill” by themselves. They do not require “micromanagement”. A weekly meeting with their superior is generally all that is needed. (See article on Management Methods) Typically, a company needs one manager for each 5-8 employees, although this can vary greatly. A good manager can effectively manage this number of people well and still complete the work necessary for their own projects (scope). A manager must have the following skills and traits:

  1. Good working relationship with people and is considered “fair” and consistent. Has the ability to manage 1 to 25 people effectively with 3 to 7 direct reports.
  2. Can communicate effectively with subordinates, peers and other functional areas in writing and orally.
  3. Documents well, so that everyone above and below them knows what happened or is going to happen, in advance when appropriate, and can leverage their work product, not repeat it.
  4. Can evaluate, hire, fire and train people to perform all tasks in their department (understands each area well).
  5. Can develop written short term (1 month) and long term (1 year) plans, set priorities and allocate resources.
  6. Can anticipate all the needs of their department for at least one year in advance (both people and other resources) and prepares in advance of the need (i.e. Find people in advance of need, so they arrive just-in-time).
  7. Measures performance (quality and quantity) in their area and aggressively fine-tunes it (quality and quantity). Is constantly improving the efficiency of their department and its people as well as developing the skills of those people.
  8. Delivers promised projects on-time and within budget. If a project will be late, they always give plenty of advanced notice of this to their superior and all others to whom the project may impact.
  9. Always keeps their people highly utilized.
  10. Does whatever it takes to deliver output on-time, including being proactive enough to find out what they need to know to achieve their goals and make quality decisions. Unfortunately, this is a skill possessed by less than five percent of all people. It is “self-actualization” or an inherent drive to improve themselves. This is someone who is aware of what they don’t know, and seeks to learn it in advance of the need. They are not only thinking ahead, but also always improving themselves to be prepared for those future requirements. Without this skill, an employee is not likely to make it to the executive level on merit and will not keep up with a fast-growing company.

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Ralph Nader

11. Has good overall judgment and knows the limits of their knowledge and that of others to avoid making decisions that should be brought before their superiors. (A fallback to the previous requirement when there is not enough time to learn everything needed).

12. Can budget for a department and manage within those financial limitations at all times.

13. Can negotiate with outside vendors to get a good deal in the business.

14. Needs direction from their superior on a weekly to monthly basis.

15. Manages their superiors (managing up) and keeps them informed of all successes and failures with advance notice on important issues.

16. Works 50 hours minimum and 60 to 70 hour weeks when and as needed (not all the time or even on site, but as needed) to achieve promised goals.

17. Sets an example of professionalism, quality, effort and positive attitude.

18. Works at developing a greater level of understanding of the other functional areas of the business.

19. Understands who is responsible for everything done in the organization and confers with other managers and executives as needed.

20. Expected to ignore, not create, bureaucracy except as absolutely needed and circumvents it when needed to perform quickly.

21. Anxious to take on new responsibilities, but they know when to avoid this because of resource constraints, among other things.

22. Responsible for representing the company positively to all employees and the outside world.

23. Should develop their abilities to “sell” their ideas and the company, both internally and to the outside world.

Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur, CEO and investor who founded six companies with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors for a 25X ROI. Two others are still in development. He has trained, consulted and advised thousands of Entrepreneurs, CEOs and boards since 2002. Mr. Norton works with companies to 2X to 10X growth rates and valuation using AirTight Management™, the world’s most comprehensive Leadership Operating System. He also helps companies raise capital to fund growth. He is also the Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship Universityfor early-stage companies that have not reached product-market fit and $1M ARR.

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