Let the sun shine on deserving employees

Let the sun shine on deserving employees

Like sunflowers, dedicated employees want to keep their faces pointed toward growth and development.

September 6, 2016

Sunflowers are interesting plants to observe; unique in their behavior.

Daily, they direct their cheerful faces “from east to west to follow the sun and then, in the darkness of the night, eerily ratcheting back to face east,” according to The Atlantic

Like sunflowers, dedicated employees want to keep their faces pointed toward growth and development. As employer, you have capacity to “make the sun shine.”

This week, an examination of personality traits achievers possess, as well as ways to help determine when employees may—or may not be—ready for advancement.

‘Make it like a sunflower.’ –Steve Jobs

First, consider the culture of work environment. Is your organization conducive to the proper care and feeding of a flourishing workforce?

Accountability is important for both employer and employee. Notes, many senior leaders complain of “inconsistent accountability.”

“Missed commitments make your players, your team and your company look bad. They give customers every reason to go elsewhere for products and services,” the article notes.

Incentives and punishments don’t resolve problems. Variables like skill sets, cooperation, and workload are impactful.

Perhaps like soil, sun, and rain for sunflowers, three work culture elements are required to up accountability and ensure growth:

1. Communication is essential such that each participant knows their function. Further, team players need to provide updates and discuss progress.

2. Cooperation is a requirement as all hands working together will prevent the “lone ranger” sensation for any one employee.

3. Consequences are important—and not purely from a punitive stance. Employers should bear “positive consequences as well as negative consequences… Reward them for good things.”

Suppose you have a corporate culture to facilitate employee and business growth and accountability well in place. Do you know how to identify and interact with team players having leadership capacity?

See a SHRM blog post, “The Promise of Performance Management” and read that “performance management continues to be one of the most disheartening components of the people function.”

Indeed, a survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity shoes “seven out of ten respondents believed that their PM process is not managed well, and that does not have a positive effect on performance.”

One solution might be to recognize the potential of employees in a move “away from forced rankings” to talent reviews that identify 20-25% of the workforce to earn “performance-based, discretionary bonuses.”

The article continues, “Why not use that same process to document and engage those individuals who have demonstrated the ‘potential’ to move into new or emerging roles… Then you can supplement annual review discussions with meaningful dialogue about career aspirations and alternative career ladders.”

This may be considered succession management or career planning. But either way, employees benefit from measurement surrounding “performance and the performer,” thus increasing “the possibility that valued members of your team will more actively and creatively consider career journeys they can have inside the company.”

‘The sunflower is a favorite emblem of constancy.’ –Thomas Bulfinch, American writer

Know “5 Promotable Personality Traits That Will Help You Get Ahead,” according to Business News Daily. Research shows personality can predict job performance, and should be used in making personnel decisions, the article notes.

The five traits to reward with promotions are:

1. The “people” person who is pleasant and apt to be a good leader due to the ability to get along with others;

2. Delegators who already assume leadership roles and can provide response about strengths of others;

3. Adapters learn quickly and can adjust to their environment;

4. Deciders are confident in decision making and important in strategy roles; and

5. Ethical workers are led by integrity and will not compromise values at the expense of others.

Also, watch for “7 Signals That Your Employee is Ready for a Promotion,” at

Here, ambitious employees likely to succeed with promotion have asked for one, and they demonstrate motivation with the inquiry.

Also, those to consider for promotion have exceeded responsibilities, are already recognized as leaders despite lack of direct reports, and exhibit curiosity.

Such employees further “create solutions” and will “report problems up to the management chain.”

Finally, good candidates for promotion are able to manage themselves and will solicit feedback.

However, it is important to also know how to handle an ambitious worker who is not ready to advance. Harvard Business Review explains “What to Do When Your Employee Asks for a Raise Too Soon.” 

Managers should hold a series of conversations in which they ask many questions. Realize motivations and goals of the employee and let them know what they need to do to reach their objectives.

Managers also need to be transparent in setting expectations and “be up front about organizational constraints.”

Also, validate the employee and coach them to success; managers must be fair and honest in feedback.

‘Which way will the sunflower turn surrounded by millions of suns?’ –Allen Ginsberg, poet

Should you be an employee seeking advancement, TheMuse identifies “12 Ways You Can Get Yourself on the Promotion Track This Year.”

“You’re not going to earn a promotion by simply sitting and waiting—you’ll earn it by going above and beyond in your everyday tasks,” the article says.

Do so by demonstrating interest in supporting other company departments, finding efficiencies, taking ownership, going beyond expectations, setting and meeting goals, and maintaining curiosity.

Further, those who seek promotions will find ways to grow revenue, create value, maintain punctuality, succeed in a variety of roles, demonstrate interest in long-term growth, and foster idea development.

Finally, in offering promotions, companies need to consider whether compensation offered is “fair and equal”, according to"There’s a number of things that may cause newly promoted employees to feel shortchanged after a salary bump.”

Employees may feel their new peers may earn more, they may sense the raise is overdue, or the employee may have “received a higher offer for a similar outside role.”

In such instances, managers need to have conversations surrounding pay to explain circumstances. Further, they need to listen to employees. “This is, after all, someone you believe in enough to promote.”

Sunflowers impress onlookers with their stature and proud disposition. Their powerful stems help direct the flower such that is always pursuing growth and vibrancy afforded by the sun.

These impressive flowers all start as little seeds.

How does your garden grow?

LORA BRAY is an information research analyst for CUNA’s economics and statistics department. Follow her on Twitter via @Bray_Lora and visit the CUNA blog, The Research Roundup: Economic Perspectives.