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How do you handle team members who have little aspiration for advancing their careers?

(Image credit: SmartBrief)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle team members who have little aspiration for advancing their careers?

  • I let them do their thing as long as they’re performing in the role: 61.20%
  • I show them the benefits of growing their careers and hope they latch on: 28.36%
  • I push them into roles of greater responsibility to drive their growth: 9.20%
  • I have no idea how to handle those situations: 1.24%

Educate on growth. Most of you indicate you’re OK with letting your team members plug along, doing their thing and not advancing their careers if they don’t have those aspirations. But ask yourself whether you truly know that they don’t want to advance, or whether you’re making that assumption on their behalf because they’ve never asked about it.

If it’s the latter, you might be doing them a disservice. Many people don’t know how to effectively ask about career paths and advancement. Some feel it’s risky and might seem disloyal to ask about moving into other roles that aren’t on your team. They might worry about repercussions from a request like that. Some more junior employees may not understand they have a role in advocating for their advancement and figure “well, when I’m ready, the boss will approach me.”

If you’re making the assumption that they don’t want to advance, I’d suggest you validate that with a candid conversation. Who knows: You may have the next rising star on your team but they simply don’t know how to get started with advancing their career.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN — the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”