Hi, I have someone on my team who is fairly new to the company, though not so new anymore. He is very good at what he does but I am having trouble inspiring him to latch onto projects that interest him. I have raised this concern by asking this team member what he would like to be working on, where he sees himself in the future and if there is anything I can do to help/open doors, etc. But he does not voice alot of ambition.

I'm concerned this team member will continue along doing what he does until he gets bored and and then leave. And I don't want to lose him.

Can anyone recommend another approach aside from the conversation I describe above?



wendii's picture
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Some thoughts:

have you told him of your fears? We all have times in our careers when more is going on outside of work than inside, and it may be that he is in one of those times - or he has another reason for not being engaged, he may just not be very ambitious. And only by asking him, and telling him why you want to know will you find out.

Does he trust you? It takes me time to trust a boss, and until then, all they get out of me is 'everything's fine'. It's a fault.. but maybe one he shares. Continuing 1-2-1's and giving him the opportunity to open up when he's ready, may be a solution.

Does he feel valued? Have you told him that he is doing a good job? Does he understand how his work contributes to the whole?

Do you know what his DISC profile is? Can you guess? Is he communicating with you on a level you're not seeing because it's not what you expect?

There's other's here who are better than me at this stuff, but these thoughts might get you started.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

What's his behavior like around the office in general? Does he tend to keep his head down and get on with his work or does he chat with people? Does he go out to lunch or after work with colleagues or does he tend to eat lunch alone and go straight home after work? Does he talk about his family or not? Are you doing O3s? You've referenced a 'conversation', was it just one (or two or three) conversation or have you talked to him several times?

It could be that he's just not comfortable talking and may even be very uncomfortable talking to you about his future development. A number of my colleagues in my previous job would have been shocked or even incensed if their manager had asked them where they saw themselves going and what their ambitions were. As far as they were concerned they came to work to get paid and they just went where management told them to. Many felt that it was their manager's job to sort out training, development &c (the general management culture of the organization has traditionally been quite Victorian paternalistic, emphasis on the "Father knows best" paradigm) and were shocked when I didn't get sacked for requesting training. Maybe he's used to a more paternalistic culture?

Your best bet may be to do O3s, if you're not already, and keep gently pushing the development agenda?

Alternatively it could be, as wendii indicated, that he's just got other things going on in his life right now. If that's the case, and he brings it up, just support him as best you can.


jacobwood's picture

Thanks for the input. I also just saw Mark's post on another thread which adds another interesting angle:

TomW's picture
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[quote="jacobwood"]Can anyone recommend another approach aside from the conversation I describe above?[/quote]

Are you already doing the Trinity? (coaching, feedback, one-on-ones)

At the very least, you will get a better picture of the person, what motivates them, and what might make them happy. At best, they might turn themselves around.

dfbfloyd's picture

In order to make sure our team members are performing tasks most suited to their strengths we use the Team Dimensions Profile. However matching them with their strengths doesn't guarantee they won't get bored and leave for something more interesting. We also use the Work Expectations profile but this offers no guarantees either. I think the DISC is a good tool for evaluating the behavioral styles but it often only scratches the surface.

Don Bowlby

Mark's picture
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I agreee with Wendii's post... but if you're not doing one on ones, you're missing the best tool you have to build the relationship that will allow them to trust you with whatever they can.

Stick with them...and caring includes candor.