“Seek Out the Curious and the Fastidious,” says Soledad O’Brien in a recent article in The New York Times. This is her prescription for identifying promising talent.
“There are two qualities you can’t teach people,” she notes. “I don’t think you can teach people to be curious… And I’m obsessed with attention to detail. I don’t know that you can teach that.”
O’Brien’s article is part reflection on her own career path and part suggestion for new bosses who seek success in hiring and management. It is clear that her experiences in subordinate roles influence her supervisory approach.
Hard work wins, she learned early on—through example of her parents. Know what you do well and ensure everything you do is “good and solid” are basics from her early employment years.
Do bosses know the ambitions of their staff? Do employees have strategies for their own advancement? Who is responsible for employee development—an important component in employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention—boss or employee?
This week, consider perspectives from both sides. How do you, as employee, propel yourself forward?
How do you, as boss, help grow others via lessons you learned along the way, as did Soledad O’Brien?
‘I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.’ --Albert Einstein
First, consider the importance of employee engagement and loyalty. This Access Perks blog post will help you consider the importance of employee loyalty to your enterprise:
What do people think about their careers? How are career trajectories envisioned—is this reasonable? Do you know how your employees think?
Consider the recent college graduate as noted at The New York Times. An eager individual may know precisely their passion and pursue it.
But for others, “the reality of following your passion is not very romantic. It takes time to develop a direction.” A psychologist suggests three ways to foster passion:
1. Move toward your interests to find good job fit;
2. Seek your purpose—how will you help others and solve problems?
3. “Finish strong” each job knowing the first won’t be the last—weave experiences into your future.
The sentiment of a meandering career path as opposed to a straight upward line is reiterated in The Huffington Post where readers are asked to consider this great likelihood.
“Aspirations… mark the tone of the workforce in an emerging country such as ours,” the article notes. The result is progress and a strong economy.
But the notion of a continual upward slope is “causing huge stress on both the individual and the organization—the former due to a sense of self-worth being linked to a role and title, and the latter because of the pressure to provide growth for everyone lest they get demotivated and leave.”
Further, “pegging expectations based on predecessors from another era can only lead to disappointment.”
Rather, a “dynamic career path” could resemble upward, downward, and sideways movements as employees pace themselves and explore interests.
‘Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.’ –William Arthur Ward, American writer
Perhaps we need to challenge our perspectives and expectations of engagement to find career and business success.
“Let’s Redefine Employee Engagement In 2016,” notes talentculture.com. High engagement yields productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty.
“Employee engagement efforts typically follow a cycle” as surveys are conducted, but the answers “rarely produce[s] long-term results” because:
A better way to approach engagement, the article notes, is to define what you hope to accomplish. Listen to employees and drive engagement through values like individual empowerment, greater transparency to develop community, and make wellness a priority.
‘Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.’ --Bryant H. McGill, American author
Suppose you’ve hired the curious and fastidious employee. How do you help grow their careers and yours simultaneously?
“Developing Employees is Like Brushing Your Teeth,” notes SmartBrief. Helping others to grow is “among the most fundamental responsibilities human beings have,” says the article. “Yet, in the workplace, where it plays an equally vital role supporting organizational (and sometimes individual) advancement and survival, development doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.”
Managers have “inaccurate beliefs that drive ineffective behavior.” Development does not occur through HR functions like technicalities of annual performance appraisals, but rather through the forging of connections “in an ongoing fashion day-in and day-out.”
In other words, employee development is a leadership task that creates content and requires regular check-ins.
“A couple of minutes is all it takes to help employees grow,” the article notes.
A survey explores the importance of such check-ins for one cohort. “Millennials Want Feedback, but Won’t Ask for It,” says Gallup. Managers fail to live up to the hopes of these workers. A mere 19% of millennials get regular feedback, and only 17% find it meaningful.
But, it’s not all up to management. Only 15% of these employees ask for feedback.
“However, managers also need to take initiative and increase the amount of feedback they provide.”
Frequency of contact is cited as an important consideration; daily interactions are recommended.
Another suggestion to increase engagement comes from rallyware.com. “Increase employee engagement and retention through peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring,” notes a blog post.
Peer-to-peer influence is an “untapped gold mine in employee communications” and “often, the best way to negotiate with employees—is when it comes from their peers.”
Do you facilitate communications among employees to build engagement?
Soledad O’Brien’s thought that curiosity is an essential component to seek in hiring seems a fine observation. Another article at lifehack.org further illuminates why: Curiosity makes the mind active rather than passive. It fosters awareness of new ideas, allows envisioning new possibilities, and brings excitement to life.
Help your curious employees grow their engagement through your own curiosity. Consider new ways to think about how management and workers envision work opportunities, and how new understandings and collaborations might create successful business outcomes.