What is a ‘people jam’? It’s a term we coined for people in an organisation being or feeling stuck. There’s a lack of progress, a bottleneck. Here are two kinds of jams we’ve worked with fast-growth organisations to blast through.
A people jam because of a lack of opportunity for promotion
Small, growing organisations don’t have the set career progression of large companies. Whilst multi-tiered management levels are commonplace in big companies with employees in the thousands, fast-growth companies tend to have far fewer staff members. If everyone was on the promotion track, many would end up with massive senior leadership teams and very few people grafting at junior level. There’d be no strategic or financial logic in promoting employees – even capable ones – to positions that stroke the individual ego more than they float the organisational boat.
What do you do to avoid employees feeling like they’ve hit a glass ceiling? They can’t be stationary forever.
A people jam because of a lack of professional development
People in our organisations aren’t just at risk of being jammed positionally. There is also a risk of a developmental jam in fast-growing teams. To keep the pace in small teams, start ups and scale ups, a heap of work has to get done. With all the rapid productivity, the danger is that the progression of the employee is neglected.
What do you do to overcome the developmental ‘people jam’?
The dynamic approach to overcome ‘people jams’
There’s one thing that we’ve seen clear ‘people jams’ of both kinds: accelerated people development. Investing in your people at pace avoids the feeling of hitting the glass ceiling and gives more than just a feeling of progress. It’s a team boost.
Allowing time for people to hone their skills or learn new ones could expedite their growth curve. What do they need to be able to do before they leave your organisation? This kind of thinking might seem counter-intuitive. We don’t want our best people to move on. However, this investment doesn’t just make your workers more valuable, but it supercharges their motivation within your team. “I’m becoming a better version of myself here… why would I leave?” Or as the famous Richard Branson quote goes, “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Questions to reflect on for your organisation
- Which kind of ‘people jam’ is the biggest challenge in your organisation?
- What are your people development goals for 2020?