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Structural integrity

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

Q. I have an employee who has done an outstanding job as a trainer. Now he wants me to create a new training unit within our department, thus giving him supervisory status. I’m against this for three reasons: I cannot afford to have staff whose sole responsibility is to train because our bread-and-butter is in development; I don’t want to undermine our flat, interactive structure by creating a supervisory position; and others have performed equally well but cannot get promotions due to salary freezes. Should I give this employee more responsibility or should I adhere to my design and organizational structure and risk a rise his frustration level? He is replaceable, as we all are!

A. Outstanding employees are worth fighting for. Today’s organizations are desperate to find superior people, so don’t assume that if you lose this guy, you’ll find someone else who’s just as outstanding. Let’s examine each of your concerns. First, if you need the employee to remain involved in development as well as training, then build that into the new position and hold him accountable for the results. (For example, make the job 50 percent training and 50 percent development.) There’s no reason to make him head of a new training unit if you don’t need a training unit. Second, promoting someone to a supervisory post won’t necessarily jeopardize the collegial work environment you’re striving to maintain. In fact, if your current supervisors and line staff are already operating as a harmonious team, then it proves that a bit of hierarchy doesn’t hurt. If the cost of preserving a “flat, interactive structure” is that your deserving stars are prevented from advancing, you’re paying too high a price. Finally, if your organization has already announced a salary freeze and everyone’s aware of it, then you’ll have to be creative. Shrewd managers devise all kinds of ways around salary freezes—from reallocating money that’s already been budgeted for something else to fund pay raises to deferring pay increases until the next fiscal year. None of this is easy, but it’s sometimes necessary to keep talented, ambitious people happy.

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