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Adventure is Out There

This past week I finished watching Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel where he talked about the success of the women’s bowling team at the University of Nebraska. They are one of the most successful and least known collegiate programs in the nation, having won 10 National Championships. As I was watching the segment the players talked about how much they learned over the 4 years, both in terms of bowling and about themselves. How they grew as a bowler and as a person. Each year team members graduate and go their separate ways, taking with them the life lessons they learned along the way. Each year new team members join the team and bring with them their experiences, along with the opportunity to grow and learn from the other players and coaches. It got me thinking about the team I manage and something that keeps me up a night.


One of the things that we learn as a leader is that our people are our most valuable asset at a company and that we should do everything possible to keep them. As we know when an employee leaves, we have to recruit, hire, and train a new employee, which costs the company more than retaining an employee.


I agree that we should do everything we can to keep our employees, meaning we pay them fairly, offer great benefits, career growth and development opportunities, and a fun, safe, and engaging work environment. Borrowing from Daniel Pink, providing autonomy, mastery, and purpose are also vitally important to keep employees motivated, happy, and successful.


Instead of losing sleep about employees leaving, what if instead we embraced it. As long as we have created a culture of fair pay, growth and development, and a fun, safe, and engaging work environment, what if we looked at our employees like the members on the women’s bowling team. We as leaders do everything we can to grow and develop them, both personal and professionally. When their time comes to graduate to the next level, whether that is a more senior role on the same team or a different role on another team or company, shouldn’t we embrace that change? Sometimes the employee has learned everything they want with their current role, discipline, and company and want to see what else is out there, what other things they can learn and explore, what other adventures are on the horizon.


At Conga we use the phrase "Growth = Opportunity" and that with our continued growth, opportunity abounds throughout the organization. Not only within your current team, throughout all the teams in the company. I have a number of team members who have expressed interest in moving to another role in the company and while I’m very concerned about how we would back fill their role, I’m also very supportive of their change. Instead of trying to figure out how to keep them (which I’m doing anyways), I’m trying to figure out how we can make a smooth transition.


At times I feel like I'm failing as a leader as if I was more successful, no one would want to leave the team. If I provided more growth and development opportunities, they wouldn't be looking for opportunities elsewhere. Then I think back to the women's bowling team. Once they have completed their 4 years of college, they move on to their next adventure. I realize that moving on after college is more natural, however there is no reason why we can't offer something similar to our team members.


As Ellie from the Disney move UP says, "Thanks for the adventure, now go have a new one!". And when one of our employees asks for something new, let's support them as best we can.



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