Reluctant to Accept More Responsibilities
You are vice president of operations at a mid-sized architectural firm.
The head of your IT department, Alexia, has told you she’s relocating to another part of the country. She supervised three technicians, one of whom is Jeremy.
Jeremy has outstanding technical knowledge and has been with the company for five years. Although quiet, he gets along well with coworkers and the staff whenever he works on their devices throughout the office. It sounds like Jeremy would be a very good candidate to become the new head of the IT department, except . . .
Not So Fast
Alexia tells you that Jeremy is risk averse and has said more than once he doesn’t want the responsibilities of managing other people.
You have to make a decision about what to do concerning Jeremy. Which would be the best move in your leadership role to help the company in this situation?
- The carrot and stick would work here: Offer a sizeable salary bump and perks, and remind Jeremy that his career path would probably stall out if he turns this down.
- It’s better for everyone to encourage Jeremy to pursue this new role by addressing his reluctance and offering personal benefits, as well as coaching to manage his needs and cultivate his strengths.
- You cannot spend a lot of company time and resources on a transformation project. Choose one of the other techs, or go outside your firm for this hire.
No doubt, a bigger salary and more vacation can be real motivators for employees to take on new challenges at work. However, in many cases, managers have to work with employees who, for their own reasons, will not be persuaded to change behavior simply by being offered the usual, tangible benefits. But waving the specter of dire consequences for not going along is apt to push away an already-reluctant Q2 employee from accepting a challenge. You need to explore more personal motivators. One advantage of Q4 leadership is that you can use your skills to gain insight into those needs an employee may not express readily, especially someone with a Q2 safe and low-profile way of dealing with bosses.
As we always emphasize, you have to be patient if you are trying to influence Q2 cautious, reserved behavior. In this case, probe Jeremy’s state of mind by have a long conversation or two about being a manager. Hopefully, by listening you will learn more about his personal needs and concerns, which may be addressed if you work out a program that could ease him into the position. Emphasize benefits beyond salary increases or other perks; it’s probably more important now to help Jeremy feel safe and supported if he assumes this new role. Is all this worth your time and trouble? You don’t know enough about this case to be sure. Generally, though, investing in employees with a strong track record, who know your operations and already get along with your staff, tips the scale completely in favor of promoting them over hiring from outside.
As we suggested in Choice B, going outside the company will always include the cost and time delay of bringing even a highly-skilled person up to speed about your organization and culture. Many more hours will be spent with orientation and familiarizing this person with his coworkers — hours that wouldn’t be needed by promoting from within. An outside person may still be the way to go, but by employing Q4 leadership techniques, you might help a very good employee to blossom. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll probably know quickly enough to move onto the alternatives. For the company’s bottom line, we’re betting on helping Jeremy develop and grow.