So what does this mean for you?
If you’re building a team, it’s easy to get tempted by a candidate who’s had the exact same role at a similar company. While the candidate may be able to hit the ground running, how long will they last as the tasks they once enjoyed migrate into the bottom half of the matrix? When I’m sourcing candidates for a new role, I tend to look for people who see this role as a big step up. I’ve found that usually if they’re a good self learner, their motivation will help them quickly close any skill gap.
As a manager, be wary of leaving one of your team-members in the same role for too long. If you want to retain them, make sure you understand the next role they want and what skills they need to land it. To facilitate skill-building, put them on projects where they can work alongside colleagues who are subject matter experts. If that expertise doesn’t exist at the company, find non-mission-critical projects, that they can use to try out new skills in a risk-free setting.
If you find yourself in a job where you’re starting to feel unhappy, it may be worth bucketing your responsibilities like this so that you can go to your manager with some concrete proposals for improvement. And if things don’t change, this framework can also help you evaluate new offers.
Sometime in the next few months I’m planning to write a guide for getting promoted at fast growing startups. If you have any related stories to share I’d love to hear them.
Also, if there are any career-related topics you’d like me to cover in the future, feel free to drop me a note.