“She’s really stepped up over the past few months” 

Few statements elicit more pride, fulfilment or contentment in a leader, than hearing feedback about one of your employees like this.  I’ve heard this comment and others like it about one of our team members several times recently and each time it has put a smile on my face. 

The reason I’ve been so delighted to receive these remarks, is primarily because no-one asked this person to step up.  She just did it.  But more about that later. 

Like many successes that seem to happen suddenly, the reality is, this had been in the making for some time.

The value of communicating

It started years ago, through weekly one-on-one discussions with her manager, in conjunction with quarterly performance review conversations.  In a psychologically safe environment with high trust, they discussed how she was performing, what she did well, how she could improve, and they held regular discussions about the future.  It was two-way dialogue.

Through these conversations, it became apparent she could, and in fact, wanted to do more, despite the fear of letting go of the work she knew best. 

The first steps

One day, this individual was offered the opportunity to work in a new area.  Initially, she was torn, because she loved her work…it was high volume, exhilarating and delivered instant outcomes.  If things didn’t go to plan, the pain was short lived, because the work kept flowing and it was on to the next project and next success.   The busier she was, the better she performed.  She knew her job and she was great at it. 

Yet, her manager needed help.  He was growing another service line and he needed skilled people to help him.  Creatively, he developed a hybrid role for this employee, partly playing to her strengths in the area she knew so well, partly new, requiring significant re-skilling.  They agreed to give it a try and see how things went.  The manager didn’t want to pull her away from the work she loved and risk losing a great performer, yet he needed help.  He’d listened carefully during their conversations, and he’d identified her inherent motivation to continuously improve.    

Mastering something new

And so, it began.  She devoted time and effort to her new role, acquiring subject matter expertise and credibility, both internally and externally.  The more she learned, the more enjoyment she derived from this new area.  What was initially scary, became comfortable over time, and her role morphed away from high volume transactional projects she once loved so much, to more complex, slower burn assignments requiring a level of patience she didn’t think she had.  She took to the hybrid role with gusto, predictably performing at a high level once again. 

Step up – just do it

Then it happened.  Her most recent moment to step up arrived.  A combination of team movement and her boss taking leave created a temporary void in the business.  Without prompting, she took charge of the area and ran with it. Whilst doing so, she coached and trained newer employees to cover the transactional area she once owned, to focus her efforts on continuing the outstanding work of her boss. 

And I’ve got to say, it has been impressive.  I totally agree with those who have said she’s really stepped up in the past few months.  She has displayed loyalty to her boss, her team-mates and the business.  She is a proud person and the effort she has put in during a time of need has been outstanding. 

Upon his return from leave, her manager recently announced his resignation to pursue a new career path.  And guess what?  This lady has been promoted. 

Congratulations and our thanks go to you Georgia Narayan.  Keep stepping up!

General Manager, Recruitment

Ben is General Manager – Recruitment at Optimum Consulting Group, an Australian employment advisory firm.  He has been actively recruiting and managing teams for twenty years, with industry experience gained in Australia, Canada and Ireland. 

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