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HR Disaster: Making These 7 Blunders Means Losing Your Star Employees

HR Disaster: Making These 7 Blunders Means Losing Your Star Employees

If you’re the boss or manager of a business, you more than likely are able to name your best employees off the top of your head. You know they are the hardest working people you have under you, and you know that they’ll do anything to keep business moving forward. However, this doesn’t mean they should be taken for granted. If your best employees don’t feel like you acknowledge them as being such, they may start to look elsewhere. Your best employees could fly the coop if you don’t make sure to avoid these seven human resource blunders:

1. Unfair compensation

The best employees pride themselves on a job well done. They come in every day hitting the ground running, and don’t stop until the end of their shift (or later, as the case may be). However, if their talents, drive, and willingness to go the extra mile go unrewarded for too long, one of two things could occur. Your best employees may start to slack off when they realize everyone else makes the same amount of money they do, regardless of the effort they put in to their work. If they don’t go this route, they’ll more than likely start looking elsewhere for employment in which their salary is entirely contingent upon the effort they put into their duties.

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2. Poor work-life balance

My father, who works as a teacher, has a reputation around my hometown of being an incredible carpenter, and when summer rolls around people call him non-stop asking if he can build a deck for them or put some other addition onto their house. It’s something a lot of people can’t do, but since my father has done it well before, others think it’s “easy” for him. He is definitely a master of the craft, but he doesn’t consider it an easy task to complete. And it definitely hurts to have people say, “Oh, John can take care of that for you,” as if he has nothing else to do with his life in the summer.

The same goes for your best employees. Just because they’re efficient and quick-working in whatever needs to be done doesn’t mean it’s not hard work, and it doesn’t mean they truly enjoy it. If you put too much on your best employee’s shoulders, so much so that he misses out on other aspects of life (due either to time constraints or sheer exhaustion), he will eventually shrug everything off and realize his paycheck isn’t worth the stress.

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3. Lack of appreciation

I’m not saying your employees need a cookie after a job well done (although it wouldn’t hurt!). But I am saying their hard work and diligence needs to be celebrated in some way or another. Even a simple “thank you” can go a long way in the busy rat-race of the business world. Take the time to have employee of the month awards, or time to recognize improved performances. Also, though hard work is what you pay your employees to do, don’t simply expect them to go the extra mile as the status quo. When workers go above and beyond the call of duty, be sure to recognize that publicly, so others feel motivated to push themselves as well.

4. They’re not supported

We’ve all heard the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In other words, the employees who don’t give their all, or aren’t exactly competent and up to the task at hand, are the ones that sometimes get all the attention. Like I said before, just because someone is a hard worker who usually can figure things out for himself, that doesn’t mean he should feel as if he can’t come to you with a problem.

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Star employees are great workers for a reason: they understand the business and are able to think ahead. But this means nothing if their voices aren’t heard. If they come to you with a concern, take it seriously, and act upon it immediately. They might not be in a position in which their opinion matters much to the company, but if they reach out to you, don’t blow them off. If you do, you run the risk of them becoming disgruntled and unsatisfied with their current position.

5. A negative work environment

Being a shining star in a sea of mediocrity can be incredibly taxing on a person’s psyche. While everyone else goes about their workday with a scowl on their face, top employees often try to make the best of awful situations, no matter how difficult it can be to do so. Negative employees can bring productivity down to a minimum, and will foil any attempt a star employee makes at bringing morale up. If this goes on for too long, even your best employees will start to dread coming to work every day. As the boss, it’s your job to cultivate a working community of people who are happy to be where they are, and all working toward a common goal.

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6. Non-transparency

When an employee thinks you’re hiding something from the rest of the crew, he’ll start to second-guess every decision you make. He’ll wonder if you have an ulterior motive for switching up the schedule, or pairing him with a difficult employee. You’ll lose the trusting relationship you once had, and he’ll constantly doubt whether or not the decisions you make will actually benefit the company. Furthermore, if you start to spring changes of policy on your employees without their input and with no notice, they certainly won’t trust you anymore, as, for all they know, each day could be their last working for the company. Though there are definitely some things that can be kept on a “need to know” basis, make sure that your staff knows about major shifts in policy and procedure well in advance if you want to continue forging a trusting relationship with them.

7. Promoting from the outside

Absolutely nothing can bruise a relationship with a star employee more than keeping them stuck in the position they’re currently in when a promotion comes across the board. This is especially true when employers take in an outsider as a “consultant” or some other title that is meant to specifically keep a great employee in the position they’re in. Many employers will do this because they don’t want to lose that employee in that position, but doing so will almost certainly have the opposite effect: Why should someone work hard if they have no chance of moving up within the company? A move like this will definitely leave your best employees so disillusioned that they’ll immediately start looking for a promotion elsewhere.

Featured photo credit: Employee Ownership/Cabinet Office via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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