As the global economy becomes more and more dependent on technology and innovation, companies must look at their talent and determine the expert value in each of their employees. Finding the stars and creating an environment that your experts want to be a part of is a challenge that every employer must face in today’s fast-paced digital world. Many specialized professionals (i.e. scientists, engineers, doctors, accountants) are more interested in developing their own professional expertise than in finding a management career track. Forcing natural experts into management career paths goes against the success of their own personal career goals. Instead of pushing experts into management levels, forcing them up the organizational hierarchy to promote and compensate them at higher levels, employers will now need to look at how they can reward their experts while not forcing them into management roles that they do not want.
Who are these high professionals who would rather advance in their own expertise than be promoted to management level positions? According to the Korn Ferry Institute online, “High professionals are individuals who have the capacity and interest to continuously develop their expertise for effective performance in progressively more challenging roles within their specialties.” These professionals need to be given alternative reward structures in order to recognize their expert value, while also respecting their own career goals.
High professionals want to be challenged within their own roles, and possess a strong desire for achievement. Solving complex problems is fun for them, and they recognize that learning contributes to their career success. On the flip side of this search for stars and leaders within your organization, high potentials are the employees who may not have a specific skill set, but have “management potential.” In many organizations, it is these high potential employees that are rewarded with compensation, benefits, management roles, and other perks while the high professionals are more likely to be ignored in terms of total rewards and recognition. Both groups are highly critical for the success of any organization, and should be compensated and rewarded as such. For instance, maybe having a “chief engineer” would be a more rewarding role than promoting your most skilled engineer to a department manager role. The engineer innately wants to do what he is best at – engineering. So don’t push him into a role that he will grow to hate.
Instead, reward and recognize for those skills and expert value that you can’t replace as easily. You can often groom employees into becoming effective managers – but is it as easy to teach a retail worker the ins and outs of engineering? Probably not. Not everyone wants to be a manager. And not everyone has the skills or abilities to be an engineer. So instead of fast-tracking EVERYONE on the same path, let’s acknowledge the differences within our workplaces and reward accordingly.