How Managers Can Support Employee Career Growth
5 October, 2021
When I joined my current company, I was still getting to know people when I came across a person who reported to one of my managers (the manager reported to me). Eventually, when I got through skip-level meetings with the person, I got the hint that what she was doing might not be what she wanted to do. She had a few blocks in her role that was preventing her from doing her best. While she was relatively new to the team, we thought that her limited product knowledge might obstruct the way, so we gave them some feedback to work towards.
Going forward, we moved her to a new role in the team that would place them closer to the product owner so that she could bridge the gaps. Although she was working as a developer in the group, I understood that she was a lot more interested in product management. Her extreme passion for product management made her feel she was stuck in the wrong role, waiting for an opportunity to move. But the transition from engineering to PM is challenging.
In a way, it was like a chicken and egg problem; organizations don’t allow them to move into that role, but when there’s an opportunity, they want someone with ample experience. The person was stuck in a vicious cycle.
Given her situation, all she needed was someone who would listen to her and pinpoint the various opportunities and things she could try. As part of that, I introduced her to 2 other product managers within the organization to somewhat have a mentoring conversation with her.
I could also relate to her current situation - I had been through some of those challenges in my career. This was so that she would not lose hope. She was on the verge of losing hope because she could not make the move she wanted. I explained to her about my experiences when I was moving from engineering to engineering management, which left her some light at the end of the tunnel.
Introducing her to the product owners was also not just about mentoring; one of them ended up giving her an idea and asked her to create a product requirement document. It acted like a practice for her, which was great! Working with the product owner was an excellent opportunity for her as she was also referred to some great books for people making this transition. She took that pretty seriously! She did have enough in her toolbox that came in handy during their interviews for one of the product-related roles within the company.
She shared all the steps that she had taken to invest in herself to climb this mountain. With all of that, she was able to impress the new team because she was not just talking; instead, she was walking the talk. Finally, she did earn herself the role in product management by showcasing what values she would add to the company. Today, she is very happy in her current role and is paving the way to a more fruitful future.
- Sometimes people feel down when they are blocked, and all they need are encouraging words. They also need people to encourage them and believe in them.
- I have learned to recognize potential and invest in people, even when I don’t see the light coming through right away. At times, people get into the loop of giving up and then stop investing in themselves, which is like hitting a wall kind of a situation. Your role as a mentor and a sounding board is more important than ever.
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