Not Everyone Wants To Be a Leader: Tips for Valuing the Individual Contributor
By Kristen Leverone on September 17, 2012
While there is a great deal of emphasis placed on future leaders and high potentials, the employee who enjoys his or her job, performs well and doesn’t aspire to a leadership role is also someone you need to engage and retain. Individual contributors deserve – and respond well to – recognition and mentoring. These steadfast and dedicated employees often possess considerable organizational knowledge and are real assets to the company. They also want to grow their talents and share their expertise without necessarily moving up the corporate ladder.
In her recent Forbes article, “How To Succeed In Business Without Becoming A Manager,” Jacquelyn Smith offers advice for employees who don’t want a management role, yet also don’t want to be considered apathetic or less committed than their corporate-ladder-climbing colleagues. But what advice can we offer managers on how to retain these high-performing “individual contributors” who don’t aspire to management positions?
Here are a few tips for showing long-term, high-producing employees they’re appreciated and respected without focusing on promotions:
- Propose an opportunity to travel for a training and development conference in their field
- Solicit their opinions on process improvements or solutions to challenges they deal with everyday
- Offer development opportunities that add value to the team
- Inquire whether they would be interested in an off-site assignment
- Offer the opportunity to participate in a company volunteer project
- Recognize them publicly for their contributions
- Say “thank you”
How would organizations survive without employees who prefer executing and implementing management initiatives over the responsibility of leading others? Whether they’re backroom, frontline, low or high profile, don’t overlook your individual contributors – the backbone of an organization.
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