Learning & Development

Appreciating Position Players

Sitcoms are full of long-time employees who’ve been in their current role forever. They’re a source of stability and experience and an anchor for all the chaos around them. But it often feels like there’s a tragic element to such characters—they seem to be good at their jobs, so why have they been stuck in the same roles for so long?

New Hire

Climbing the Ladder Not for Everyone

This sentiment makes a potentially false assumption that everyone has a desire to continually climb the corporate ladder. But climbing the corporate ladder takes a certain level of commitment, ambition, and dedication that not every employee brings to work.  

And that’s not meant to be derogatory. Not everyone dreams of reaching the pinnacle of professional success. Some employees have a passion for performing a specific function and would rather do the work than manage the work. On the other hand, some employees don’t have a passion for their jobs at all and just want to perform their job duties and collect a paycheck. Of course, employers would love it if all of their workers were passionate about their jobs, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a purely transactional approach to one’s employment.

Build Value for Position Players

When managers think about the long-term plans and goals of their teams, they need to avoid the assumption that everyone dreams of rising through the ranks. Instead, managers need to have discussions with their subordinates to understand what their aspirations are and manage them accordingly.

For example, it doesn’t make sense to send a stellar machinist to a leadership training course if his or her primary career goal is to work as a machinist. Similarly, seemingly average employees may surprise their managers with an interest in and an aptitude for leadership.

Managers are often ambitious, hard-driving individuals who aspire to climb the corporate ladder. Therefore, it’s understandable that these managers may mistakenly assume their subordinates want the same thing. However, instead of making these assumptions, managers should discuss career and job aspirations and expectations with their employees to ensure they’re on the same page.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.