Manager / Employee Sweet Spot

September 15, 2008

Clearly Gen Y’s and their managers need to cooperate to create a professional environment that works for both of them.  If managers only looks at the work they need to get done and employees only looks at what’s needed to advance their career, the probability of an effective working relationship is pretty slim.

Manager vs Employee Needs

Manager vs Employee Needs

When looking for the right fit on either the manager or employee side, look for the intersection of position needs and employee interests.  That’s the center of the sweet spot – the larger the center, the better the fit.  No rocket science there.

The next step is a richer conversation between a manager and an employee (or prospective employee) that can go something like this.

“Look, no job will be a perfect fit.  The good news is that what you’re interested in doing, and where your skills are covers most of what we need.  But there are some things that need to be done as part of this position that may not be your first choice.  Here are three reasons why you need to do it anyway:

  1. This needs to be done and it’s part of the role.  (See “no job will be a perfect fit.”)
  2. I believe this skill / project will be important to your career growth.
  3. You might be surprised.  Once you get into this, you may find it is interesting/fun etc.  You don’t know until you really dig in.

On the flip side, there’s this other project/skill that is important to you.  I understand why, but it’s just not part of what this department does.  But, there is another area of the company that does that type of work.  Let me talk to them and see if they can “borrow” you to be a team member on one of those projects.  That will give you a chance to get the skill you want and see another side of our business.

What do you think?  Is that fair?”

This approach shows attractive candidates or a new hire that you do care about their interests, career development and growth, but it isn’t summer camp.  It’s a business and there’s some work that needs to get done, even if it’s not a particular area of interest or fun.

While some new-to-market employees will have a fairly clear idea of what types of projects they want to work on and where they want to grow, others may not.  But just showing these candidates or new hires that this is the way career planning is approached at your company or in your department creates an attractive environment where employees will be inclined to stay.

On the employee side, showing your recruiter or new manager that you want to grow, but recognize that not every project or assignment will perfectly fit your aspiration, demonstrates a maturity and balance that will make you an attractive candidate and a welcome co-worker.

If it doesn’t work both ways, it doesn’t work.

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