Garrett Mintz
Garrett Mintz
Garrett Mintz is the founder of Ambition In Motion. He frequently features in Ed-Tech podcasts, news outlets and conferences promoting data driven corporate mentorships.

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Fri 10 June 2022
LinkedIn News recently published an article about Walmart’s $200k store manager problem. The article shines a light on the fact that simply paying higher salaries doesn’t necessarily create great leaders. 

Leaders at Walmart realized that they needed a multi-pronged approach to developing reliable, effective managers, so they started investing in manager training and coaching to help develop their managers.

Walmart is learning the same lesson as many businesses: great leadership requires investment and effort. I’m going to cover how we got into this position and what we, leaders in organizations, need to do to minimize the learning curve of a new manager becoming an effective leader.

How did we get here?

The rapid increase in job transitions over the past few years (sometimes called The Great Resignation) has caused people to rethink their priorities for work. 

Some people qualified for leadership roles have learned that they just don’t like the responsibilities of being a leader.

Some new managers from outside the company fail to understand or adapt to the culture, and therefore struggle to get buy-in from the new teams they are inheriting.

Some new managers have never managed before. Their promotion to a management role is an opportunity for growth, but instead, they aren’t provided the guidance on how to effectively lead. 

These are just three examples of how manager development can go wrong. Without a strong system for training managers, replacement and resignation can rapidly spiral out of control and have long-term consequences on company culture and productivity. 

I recently wrote about how to maintain you’re a-game as a leader, where I described how many universities have downgraded degrees in management into co-majors or tag-along credits instead of being its own degree path. This happens because most recent graduates aren’t being hired to manage people so for universities to boost their placement rates and starting salary rates, it is more advantageous to train students in degrees that companies need from recent graduates right now. This shortsighted approach to management training is one of many contributing factors to the very issues facing companies today. 

The dearth of up-and-coming managers has led to greater turnover for both managers (e.g., they struggle with the transition) and the direct reports in their charge (they aren’t going to put up with a bad boss). This self-sustaining cycle of turnover can wash away company culture in months and take years to rebuild. 

What can we do about it?

1.       Equip managers with the tools and data to better understand their direct reports

There is no such thing as an effective one-size-fits-all management philosophy. That mode of thinking contributes to turnover.

Why?

Because people are driven by different motivations at different stages in their life.

One metric that we measure at Ambition In Motion (AIM) is Work Orientation. Our custom assessment measures what drives you at work and helps you understand how your work should fit into your life.

Some people are motivated by professional growth (Career Oriented), some people are motivated by work/life balance (Job Oriented), and some people are motivated by the value of their work for changing the world (Calling Oriented). Everyone has a mix of these motivations, but one type usually stands above the rest for an individual.

If you understand the Work Orientation of each of your direct reports *at that moment in time*, you can craft your leadership style for that person based on what drives them.

And that “at that moment in time” is important because Work Orientation is fluid. Unlike personality, which is generally consistent throughout life, Work Orientation is constantly in flux. Life events (starting a family?), professional events (getting a promotion?), epiphanies (deciding to start your own business?), influence from friends and colleagues (friend’s company has gone completely remote while yours hasn’t?), and more will mold your Work Orientation over time. Our job as managers is to be on top of these changes and adjust our leadership style and actions to manage your direct reports at that moment in time.

A good start for preparing to manage direct reports is reading about it. I’ve written about How to Manage Career Oriented Direct Reports, How to Manage Calling Oriented Direct Reports, and How to Manage Job Oriented Direct Reports in the hyperlinked articles.

The other big tool to equip managers with is a system for observing whether their perception of the workplace, productivity, and culture is shared by their direct reports. When leading a team, it’s difficult to get out of your head. This tool gives them the ability to observe and understand whether the team members agree (or disagree) with the manager’s assessment of individual productivity, team cohesion, and other metrics.    

This information is critical because perception gaps cause people to become disgruntled. People tend to judge themselves on their intentions and others on their perceptions. I was five minutes late because traffic was absurd today and nobody could predict it; you were late because you don’t care about being on time. Finding and understanding your perception gaps help you find real solutions.  

Managers need to understand where their people are coming from and empathize with their direct reports (and provide clarity) when there are gaps.

My team and I developed AIM Insights to identify the most important metrics for managers to understand their direct reports and cut through the noise. AIM Insights collects and measures everyone’s perception of their: task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, and manager performance.

If a direct report feels like they aren’t performing well, but a manager thinks they are performing great, this indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like in his role. Once the manager has this information, they can clarify expectations for that team member and help support long-term productivity and engagement.

And vice versa, if a direct report feels like they are performing great, but the manager disagrees, that indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like and that the manager must clarify expectations and help the team member improve their work.

2.                   Train managers how to act on that data and make their direct reports feel heard

The number 1 issue with any performance management tool in any HRIS platform is equipping managers with the training to interpret and act on the data to make tangible improvements. 

If a company surveys its employees but then doesn’t equip managers to do anything with that data, that company is wasting its employees’ time, creating frustration, and depleting engagement. 

Why? 

Because that data isn’t just for the executive team to review quarterly or annually. That data needs to be acted on!

If managers don’t identify productive actions from the data, there is no incentive for the direct reports to give an honest response, if they bother to respond at all. 

Therefore, it is critical that companies, if they ask for survey data from their employees, train their managers on how to interpret the data and have effective 1:1’s with their direct reports based on that data.

3.                   Actively coach managers throughout their tenure and support the need to adapt to the ever-changing nature of leadership

Leadership is an ever-evolving field. Economies are changing. Consumer demands are changing. Employee demands are changing.

Reviewing the employee salaries and benefits packages of companies even as recently as 5 years ago has drastically changed between now and then. What might have been thought of as outlandish and unnecessary is turning out to be required of job postings (my local Uhaul has a billboard that says “start today. Get paid today.” which was unheard of 5 years ago). 

Managers should be coached throughout their time as a leader with an organization, not just when they attend random offsite training. Leaders can’t just wait for the company to hire a speaker or host an event when they need to handle difficult circumstances. Life doesn’t consider the optimal timeline for you to get the training just in time. Sometimes stuff happens you need to be ready to handle it. 

Building rapport and offering consistent guidance helps managers handle the seemingly insignificant issues and builds the foundation for ensuring they won’t turn into massive issues.

Getting new managers to become effective leaders takes time. It isn’t easy and it isn’t obvious. Hopefully, these tips help your company excel and thrive in the future.
Wed 4 May 2022
Hybrid? Fully remote? Never left? Regardless of how your team operates now or in the future, the pandemic changed how companies will need to manage their people. This article is titled how to measure performance for remote teams, but these lessons apply across all teams if we want to effectively lead into the next 5-10 years.

There is this common notion: what is focal is causal. Or put simply, what people see, they perceive as important. This focus on management through visibility has been the traditional style until the pandemic. But as more teams continue to work remotely, we must find new leadership methods that can ensure productivity without relying on visibility without context.

Why?

The pandemic exposed the major flaws of traditional methods. Focusing on visibility discourages actual productivity and encourages performative productivity (e.g. people looking busy while being observed).

For example, I recently interviewed the CEO of a tech-focused logistics company. I wanted to learn how other leaders are responding to the tail-end of the pandemic. He shared his intentions to bring the entire team back into the office. He believes that his team is more productive from the office than from at home. I suspected that he had fallen into the trap of relying on that same old notion: What is focal is causal.  

So, I pressed him on some key statistics to see why he decided to end remote work. We discussed sales, fulfillment, and the other factors that indicate the health of his business, but he didn’t have the new data for comparison because they just got back into the office. We scheduled a follow-up interview two months later to see how the company changed and to compare metrics.  

When we met again with the data to compare, the results spoke for themselves: people were more productive working from home. But this CEO couldn’t shake his intuition; he still preferred to work from the office with everyone else on his team because he liked seeing everyone working.

He was always skeptical of “work from home” and had the same worries that many CEOs and managers have had to deal with: “What if people skip work early? Or they take a day they said they were working completely off? How can I manage people that I can’t see?” He was stuck in the traditional mindset that what is focal is causal. Intuition is a dual-edged sword. When it leads you astray, your key to getting back on track is taking your intuition out of it. 

The answer to this is to measure and take the guesswork out of it.    

When ‘what is focal, is causal’ pervades a workplace culture, people are incentivized to look busy when in front of their managers; the key word here is “look busy”. This is Performative Productivity. 

In the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, Cal talks about this concept of the mental residue that occurs when we switch tasks or are distracted from one task to the next. Different people prefer different times and techniques to get into a flow-like state to focus as deeply as we can.

Productivity occurs when we eliminate distractions

When we work in an office, anyone can interrupt our work, distract us, or force us to work in ways that are not conducive for our flavor of deep focus. We can put ourselves in a position where our real productivity is sacrificed to support performative productivity. 

Therefore, if we can 1.5x, 2x, or 3x increase our productivity when we control when we work and when we allow distractions, it seems only logical to allow our people to do that if we can.

The challenge lies in how we measure productivity and what actions we take for granted that we realize need to get done.

Sure, in sales, it is pretty easy to quantify productivity – number of calls made, meetings scheduled, meetings had, follow ups made, and deals closed. But for less quantifiable tasks, it is critical that we identify useful metrics for measuring progress. 

For example, an executive in my mastermind group runs a consumer-packaged goods company. He started putting QR codes on packages that link consumers to surveys. These surveys let customers share their feedback on product quality, packaging, and labeling. He also started implementing end-of-call surveys to gather feedback from his clients (or prospective clients) on his customer support team. 

As he started creating opportunities for gathering more feedback, he learned that some metrics were more important than others. He also learned that he can only improve what he is measuring. He focused his team on specific outcomes, but more importantly, he was upfront that some of these metrics may change over time as he learns more feedback. 

This iterative process helped him develop a strong system. Now he measures change and improvement pretty accurately and can share that insight with his team. His team knows when they are working in a positive direction or when things need improvement.  

Performance reviews shouldn't be a surprise

Another benefit was that performance reviews become super easy for him and his team. They have minimized surprises and his direct reports are now reporting to him where they know they can improve.

His team has now started implementing a hybrid approach where his team members have total autonomy of when they come into the office. If somebody decides to work half the day in the office and the other half from home, they can do that. Or they can rent an RV with the family and work on the road or pull all-nighters so then they can work on their start-up during the day. No matter how they decide to work, he doesn’t care because he knows what they are measured against and leaves the decision making to the employee.

Measuring works for collaborative teams just as much as individuals

And this works just as much for collaborative work as it does for individual work. When teams are working collaboratively, they are measured against the team goal. Individuals break their segments down and are held accountable to their individual tasks. Their success is tied to the team’s overall ability to achieve their goals.

When the team doesn’t achieve a goal, they work together in an experimental way to identify what they can change to achieve the outcome they desire for the future. Sometimes part of that solution is working together in the same space, sometimes they identify other methods. Either way, a manager with a strong system for accurately monitoring productivity can trust their employees to take the initiative and find productivity instead of micromanaging. 

The notion that “focal is causal” forces bad incentives. When goals are clear, employees know what needs done. Everyone can be measured based on what they know they need to accomplish, and you can continue to make incremental improvements to the goals and metrics. Together, this new method builds resilient productivity and helps you manage your team better whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-person. 

Mon 11 April 2022
Last week I hosted an executive symposium with local leaders on How to develop leaders in your organization. Shortly after the panel discussion started, a new topic emerged: who is in charge of building culture within an organization? This revealed some interesting disagreements between panelists, and so we explored this topic further. 

One of our panelists was Herb, an executive coach and former COO of a major healthcare system. Herb posited that culture-building originates with the CEO and trickles throughout the organization.

Mindy, another panelist and Chief People Officer at a venture capital-backed software company, partially agreed, but expanded the role to include the rest of the executive team. She believes that it starts with the executive team and then needs to be effectively communicated throughout the organization.

And Bernie, the CEO of a small construction company, went further. He argued that everyone helps build the culture of the organization.

CEO, executive team, or everyone at the company? Which of these arguments is actually right? I decided to seek input from the broader community to find out more. 

I conducted a modest-sized poll on LinkedIn and asked them who was responsible for building culture at their work. I heard from over 150 professionals, and the consensus pick was that everyone is in charge of building the culture – i.e., they agreed with Bernie.

But are they actually right?

Bernie is the CEO of a 25-person company. He uses quarterly meetings to bring the entire team together to reevaluate their core values, core focus, and goals, and he finds this to be an irreplaceable part of his company culture.  

His fellow panelists, Herb and Mindy, pointed out that a 25-person company can handle an activity like this, but scaling that concept up to hundreds or thousands of people is not feasible. Either nobody gets heard, or the process rapidly grows cumbersome because the time to review each person’s perspective takes forever. 

Furthermore, Mindy argued that an executive team should already be having these conversations regularly and connecting with each other as core values or core focus change.

Herb pointed out that having a CEO who prioritizes and values these regular meetings isn’t always going to be in the cards. Instead, many companies rely on standard operating procedures to be profitable. By plugging people into roles and following the company guidelines, the company should still be profitable for those roles, regardless of any specific employee’s unique contribution.

But, for a culture to adapt, scale, and thrive, there needs to be a CEO who is cognizant of the need to actively adapt and reevaluate culture if the company aims to constantly drive forward.

Herb subscribes to more of a command-and-control leadership style from the CEO position, but Bernie and Mindy disagreed with that prescription.  They argued that the responsibility to identify the proper pivots and seek new ideas is a shared task, not exclusive to the CEO. 

One thing that everyone could agree on was that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for building an effective culture, but whatever culture you have built, it must be readily understood, inspiring, and not general and exclusively aimed to benefit the organization.

What does this mean?

By “general and not exclusively aimed to benefit the organization”, means that the culture can’t simply be: 

‘Our mission is to grow and be the best',

or ‘We aim to deliver returns for our shareholders and increase the return on investment from our business development efforts'

or ‘We strive to be an ever-evolving company that constantly does better work for our clients’.

These types of generic or self-serving visions for a company’s culture lack substance, and the employees can tell.

By “readily understood” and “inspiring”, this means that the culture needs to be about something greater than the individuals in the organization or the organization itself. It needs to be about something greater; a culture that, with the support of others, with consistent reminders about what everyone is doing this for, and with flexibility for adjusting as new information comes to light, can potentially come true inside that company. 

For example, Bernie’s vision is that we exist to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with like-minded clients, design firms, and trade partners on the construction of unique spaces. We operate with humility, curiosity, diligence, and confidence. We believe our success will continue as we put others first, remain perpetually relevant, and execute best practices. We believe in a better construction process, one where you will LOVE YOUR HOME AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Personally, I liked Bernie’s vision, but some aspects felt a little generic. Contrast this with Mindy’s vision, which spoke more strongly to me, particularly because it was shorter and more clear while still being aspirational.

Mindy’s vision is a world where the vast majority of people are excited about going to work. When they are there, their expectations meet reality, and when they come home, they feel fulfilled. 

Her team’s cultural norms and rituals are based on this higher goal of helping people enjoy work more. Because of these efforts, their team is amenable to the times when they need to put in the hard, extra hours because their work fills their cup instead of emptying it. 

When Mindy’s team loses their North Star (e.g., feelings of burnout, confusion, frustration), they can refer back to their vision for inspiration or use that vision for reason to gather clarity. Her team’s vision is for the vast majority of people to enjoy their work; when a team member feels the burnout, they feel empowered to speak up about it and try to address the issue rather than quietly applying for jobs outside of the company in search of greener pastures.

If you feel like your company’s culture falls into this overly general category, or isn’t particularly inspiring, or isn’t reminded to you consistently, that’s an okay thing to feel and perfectly normal. But, it doesn’t mean that you are powerless to do anything about it.

One of my biggest takeaways from the panel was that although the CEO and executive team may be the core people coming up with the vision, everyone is required to set and reinforce the tone of the culture and the vision set forth. CEOs and executive teams are burying their heads in the sand if they think that culture only goes top-down; culture-building is a team exercise, and nobody is on the bench.

This means that if you are confused, concerned, or unclear as to your company’s culture or vision, you should broach your leadership team for guidance or ask to set a plan. If your leadership team does not have a vision, the first step starts with you.

I hope you enjoyed learning about one small insight from Ambition In Motion’s first Executive Symposium. If you are interested in attending any of our future Executive Symposiums or learning about our Executive Mastermind groups, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. 

 

Mon 17 January 2022
Leadership is an aspect of work that is about to have a major overhaul. It is a skill hardly covered in higher education, yet people are expected to step up when their name is called to fill in management positions. 

Many universities have downgraded Management from being a standalone major to a co-major or a minor. When I was a student, I didn’t think much of this at the time, except for the fact that this decision dissuaded fellow business students from pursuing the field of study because it meant doing just as much work as a normal major but having the label as “co” attached to it, making the degree seem less significant. 

From my understanding, their reasoning was that most college students aren’t hired for management roles right out of college, so other degree fields are more immediately relevant to employers making hiring decisions. The notion was that these young professionals will learn and develop management skills as they enter the workforce and be ready to step up.

The issue with this mode of thinking is that most companies promote based on individual contributions within their role, and they provide little guidance to middle-management on how to be an effective leader. On top of that, the skills that make somebody a great individual contributor are not the same as the ones that make somebody a great manager. The result is burnout, and not just for the managers. Both employees reporting to untrained managers and the managers themselves suffer from the stress. A new manager that’s in over their head can go wrong in a variety of ways. They might expect their new direct reports to all perform at the same high level that the manager (thinks) they did at the time. On the other hand, they might fall prey to ruinous empathy. They want to be the cool, approachable manager, but they lack the skills to maintain discipline and have direct, potentially uncomfortable conversations with team members. This stress feedback loop between managers and direct reports rapidly degrades engagement and company culture. 

A recent Gallup report found that burnout for people managers increased from 27% in 2020 to 35% in 2021. The effects of manager burnout are distributed across a whole company. Frequent turnover and changes in leadership completely erodes psychological safety in employees, which in turn contributes to more turnover. These feedback loops are insidious problems and only grow more difficult to fix as they gain steam. 

The point is that companies need to begin thinking about increasing their training and development resources for their mid-level managers if they want to be a viable business in the years to come. The cost of hiring, training, and then re-hiring digs too much into the narrow margins most companies have allocated for maintaining long-term profitability. And for companies that are breaking even, getting started now is imperative!

When reviewing whether the company found the right manager (hired or promoted), sometimes you find it didn’t work out. It is too easy to simply chalk it up to “poor fit” or that the person did a bad job. This lets the company off the hook for their hiring choice when there’s another side to this story. The manager that didn’t work out in that position may think that “the company didn’t give me the resources to be a good manager and put me in a position to fail”. 

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. 

I believe that being a really good manager isn’t some inherent skill that people pick up naturally. It is a learned skill that can be developed and honed over time. And this skill can’t be learned in sprints; it’s learned through a marathon of consistent, focused practice on improvement. Consistency is the key. 

When people talk about their boss being a “bad manager” and vent about all the bad things that their boss is doing, I would care to argue that in almost every case, the manager is not intentionally being a bad manager. Nobody comes to the office thinking “how can I ruin your day?” and then just go ahead and do it. Pure intentions can’t hide the effects of poor execution. 

People have off-days. 

Whether they are burned out from work, stressed out from something personal, or just on edge and unsure why, people have off-days. When you are an individual contributor, having an off-day is easier to keep to yourself. It’s easier to mostly contain that negativity, or at least keep it from being an issue for your coworkers. 

But, when a manager has an off-day, there is a magnifying, exponential effect because they have an opportunity to negatively impact everyone that reports to them.

If you string enough of those off-days in a row together, you create a toxic culture. And, unsurprisingly, toxic cultures don’t make off-days less frequent. If you are a new manager, and things aren’t going how you planned, this can be deeply frustrating. You didn’t intend to create a toxic culture, and your work style and preparation didn’t change from being a great individual contributor, but your performance as a leader of people continues to dwindle. The most important thing you can do is to start working on improving it now.

So, here are a few things you can do to maintain your A-Game as a leader.

Read Leadership Books (least expensive)

To know what a good leader does on a regular basis, it is important to learn from those that have studied the best leaders. There are about a million of these books, but to get you started I’ll share a few that have influenced my thinking. I am a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership, Brene Brown’s Dare To Lead, and Kim Scott’s Radical Candor. Eventually, you’ll have your own list of the books that most influenced you on your path to becoming a great manager. 

Join an Executive Mastermind Group (moderately expensive)

Executive Mastermind Groups can vary based on industry and title, but in general, they are a group of leaders coming together to learn from each other, share their challenges, and identify solutions to the challenges they are facing. They are a great outlet when you want to have a sounding board outside of your spouse, friends, or coworkers. My company, Ambition In Motion, actually runs executive mastermind groups, both for executives and middle managers – if you are interested in learning about them, feel free to reach out. The way I look at it is that we, as leaders, are all scientists testing hypotheses and trying to find the best ways to lead our teams. 90% of what we try probably won’t work, but these mistakes teach us how to get better at finding that last 10% that’s your key to success. If we can all bring our failed and successful leadership experiments together, we can exponentially improve our leadership and speed up our learning curve.

Review your team’s data (moderately expensive)

In my last article, How to Have An Effective 1:1 with a Direct Report, I wrote about how to have an effective 1:1 and what metrics can help you understand whether your message is getting through to your team. You need to be sure that your message is being received the way you intended. If you can understand how your team is receiving you as a leader through data, you are much more likely to make tangible improvements as a leader over time than if you aren’t measuring anything at all.

Get an executive coach (more expensive)

Getting an executive coach can give you a ton of personalized attention and focus to pinpoint the exact area you are challenged with. Executive coaches can question your way of thinking and acting and reframe your leadership style to serve your team in more impactful ways. 

You can also combine all of these suggestions together to give yourself the best opportunity to improve.

Overall, leadership is undergoing a major overhaul and as current or future leaders, we must take steps to prepare ourselves for what is to come so we can lead our team the best we can.

 

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

Everyone has their own way of deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. Research has helped show that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. Some people are:
Career Oriented – or motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement. 
Calling Oriented – or motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work.
Job Oriented – or motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it likely will change throughout your life and be impacted by both personal and professional events. Work Orientation is also on a spectrum, meaning that you aren’t necessarily purely career, calling, or job oriented, and many people have mixed orientations.
Next, I’m going to share tips on how work orientation affects your work, either as a manager or as an employee, and how you could leverage this information to create a better, more sustainable work environment.
Job Oriented
As a Job Oriented Professional
If you are a job-oriented professional, it means you are motivated by work/life balance and using your professional development to gain greater control and freedom over your life. In a work setting, it can feel frustrating when your company wants to keep pushing additional responsibilities onto you without considering your input on how this affects your workload, compensation, or balance. 
Advocating for yourself can be difficult because it might be counter to the culture that is set at the company. If your manager and everyone around you is working 16-hour days, you may feel like a slacker when you finish up after only 10 hours. But, for you to get the most value from your work, particularly with regard to your long-term engagement, it is critical that you broach this topic with your manager or you will become burnt out.
Here are some suggested questions and suggestions you can use to help you broach the topic with your manager:
  • Hi {manager name}, I was wondering if we could have a conversation sometime over the next week or two so I can gain some clarity on my role and set some expectations for the upcoming months?
    • This may seem like a daunting question to ask your manager, but a good manager would much prefer you be upfront with them about your need for work/life balance. This helps you enact greater control over your situation and can ensure that you have a say in your work/life balance. A good manager knows that failing to have these conversations with job-oriented professionals can lead to overwork and potentially an exit from the company.
  • I am struggling with creating boundaries between work and life and I was wondering if you could help me clarify my goals so then I can feel like I am holding up my share of the work?
    • Job-oriented professionals excel at finding ways to do great work when the rewards are connected to their desire for control over their work/life balance. Leaving early doesn’t mean leaving with work left undone; it means you want to find new or better ways to do your part so you can reap the fruits of your labors. 
  • Right now, my current workload is impacting my ability to {xyz – spend time with family, play videogames, spend time with friends, etc.} and that is really important to me. Would you be open to helping me structure my work schedule so then I could get my work complete and optimize my ability to {xyz}?
  • If I feel a task assigned to me is too much for what I have the capability to handle, how would you like me to communicate that to you?
  • What is the most important aspect of my work and what do I bring to the team? How can I optimize my time to be most impactful?
Managing a Job Oriented Professional
Job-oriented professionals are motivated by work/life balance and gaining control over that balance. You may have a different work orientation than somebody that is job-oriented and that is okay. Being job-oriented doesn’t mean you are lazy or disengaged, it just means you want work/life balance. Pursuing the next promotion or making an impact on the world are not significant motivators for you. This simply presents a different way for an employee to find their motivation for work, and it doesn’t mean that calling or career orientations lead to better work. In fact, after studying thousands of professionals and their work orientation, our team has found that no single orientation has greater engagement than another. Essentially, job-oriented professionals are just as engaged as everyone else.
What is critical, as managers of job-oriented professionals, is that we understand that and are conscientious of that when we add work to their plates.
When managing job-oriented professionals, it is critical that we set clear expectations with them regarding how much they expect to work, their compensation for that work, and how their work should be prioritized. Good managers must do their best to maintain standards and adapt compensation (not strictly monetary) to match changes in workload. Job-oriented professionals will be particularly frustrated when new, arduous tasks disrupt their expectations, and this leads to disengagement or leaving the company.
For job-oriented professionals, their work is not their entire life, and that is okay! Job-oriented professionals want consistency. They want to know their work or workload isn’t going to drastically change overnight so they can put their mental energy into their life outside of work.
For example, some managers of job-oriented professionals give them incredible amounts of autonomy with their work with very clear expectations. These managers know how much time it takes the average person to complete the task and what quality metrics are necessary. They support motivation for job-oriented employees by providing incentives for great work like pay bonuses, greater control over hours, or even intangible rewards like a manager’s trust when picking projects. 
However, you don’t want to cheat the system because your employee will notice, not even including the broader effects of dishonesty at work. Job-oriented professionals expect a fair deal and will respond fairly. So if you are offering half-measures or offering poor incentives, they will take notice. “Fake” rewards (e.g., offering to let them leave early for completing a task impossibly fast) will only build distrust. They are not going to fall for that trick a second time and they are going to lose trust that you have their best interests at heart.
What is critical to job-oriented professionals is clarity as to what you expect from them and that they are in agreement that your expectations are reasonable for them to complete.
Here are some suggested questions you can ask your job oriented direct reports to better understand their goals and aspirations:
  • How do you feel about your current workload? When do you feel like you are working too much? When do you feel like you are working the right amount?
  • What aspects of your work could benefit from greater clarity from myself or other team members?
  • Who on the team do you feel is working too many hours?
  • What aspects of your work do you like the most?

Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers

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