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Jul 12, 2012

Achievement is a relative thing; you don’t feel like you’ve achieved something until you feel like you’ve reached your potential.

You need to have a clear picture of where you are — and where you can go — to judge true success in a new role.

Work with new employees to define their goals with your company. Does a new grad want to chart a course to being your next Director of Sales? Make it clear that it’s an exceptional goal, but help them figure out the steps it will take to get there, and let them start the journey today.

It’s their right; the best will leave without a promise of advancement or progress. And it’s your responsibility — it’s up to you to set up each employee to realize their highest potential.

The truly talented simply don’t care about their present position. It’s what makes them perform at such a high level. They’re simply ignoring expectations of achievement and following their own, much higher, standards.That’s greatness.

The real rock stars care about where they’re going, not where they are. So help them get there.

Ask for career goals early in the hiring process

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Make compatibility with your candidates’ career goals a selection criteria. In the interview, ask candidates what job they’d like to have in five years, and look for an ambitious answer. Ask the salary they’d like to earn their way into over the same time period. Take the exercise seriously; their answers are the “X” on the road map marking where they’ll truly be satisfied.

The point is that you become the place where they accomplished a major career or life milestone. Be the company discovering underutilized or undervalued talent, and let them come into their own in pursuit of their own aspirations and your company’s success.

Help new hires learn skills and pick up hobbies

One of the best ways to help your team grow is to encourage them to share their unique talents and abilities. Ask new hires what they’d like to learn during their time at your company, and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with their careers. Try and connect them to someone that can help them develop the skill or hobby they’d like to pick up.

As the leader of a team, be a matchmaker for their growth. You never know what you might learn along the way.

Check-ins for development and increased responsibility

On one of the first days with your team, have new hires complete something like a 30-60-90: what they plan to own and achieve in the next 30, 60, and 90 days. Help them plan out the new responsibilities they can take on as they learn their role in a new company.

Check in regularly and provide any knowledge or resources necessary to help them achieve success. Use reviews at the end of each period as a yardstick for giving more responsibilities — and more rewards — going forward. Performance reviews are easily one of the biggest headaches in the office, so use them for something positive instead of paltry.

Treat each performance review as a road map to their career goals as discussed in the interview, and as a tracker for their progress learning new skills and picking up hobbies. Blend the personal and the professional. Make them about achieving real growth — not just a metric, though quantifying can be helpful — and you’ll find yourself with a constantly growing and continually improving team.

Build a company where big promotions are possible

Always back up the reviews with real action. If someone seems capable of making a huge jump in responsibility and compensation, give them a shot.

Build their next plan around gradually assuming higher-level duties, and give them a real chance to grow into the role. Continually seek opportunities to make this a reality in your company.

Be an office where people can grow into high-level roles because they earned them.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.

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