May 30, 2022

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    Have you been unclear how you can progress in a job, or what you need to do to get a pay rise?

    Have you even felt demotivated by the lack of opportunities to grow in your role?

    Employees need clear progression paths, and they need to understand their goals and objectives to stay motivated.

    Understanding the path to progress keeps employees incentivised to continuously improve.

    The bottom line?

    Motivated and incentivised staff grow a happy workplace with healthy profits.

    What is Progression?

    Humans naturally want to get better at doing what they do. That’s why learning something new can feel frustrating. You want to persevere but if you lose sight of your goal, it can be easy to veer off course or stop altogether.

    However, those who stay the course, master the task and progress to the next level are rewarded with a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

    Mastery is hugely motivating and boosts confidence. Self-belief gives us energy to do more and to face the next challenge with enthusiasm.

    We want our employees engaged because businesses with engaged workers have 23% higher profits compared with business units with miserable workers. Additionally, teams with thriving workers see significantly lower absenteeism, turnover and accidents; they also see higher customer loyalty.

    What does the Science of Happiness teach us about Progression?

    Researchers exploring the science of happiness, such as Dan Pink and Martin Seligman, tend to agree on three common requirements for happiness:

    1. The need to be connected to a bigger purpose and find meaning in what you do

    2. The desire to have autonomy and be in control of your destiny

    3. The opportunity to improve, learn and grow.

    We address these needs in our HAPPY 365 model

    HAPPY is an acronym for Health, Autonomy, Purpose, Progression and Your Connections.

    The 4th pillar, Progression, is essential if you want to maximize employee engagement and minimize the risk of losing people and the costs associated with attrition.

    Why is it important for organisations to provide progression opportunities?

    Investing in your people is simply good business.

    Imagine you are a Microsoft Partner with 50 employees, a turnover of £5 million, with £500,000 of profits and an attrition rate of 17%?

    The associated costs of recruiting and onboarding new staff, plus the time spent and know-how lost in the business, could be costing you £115,000 a year.

    That is 23% of your profits lost because people are not as engaged and happy as they could be.

    The cost of finding new people is another pain point for any business, especially now.

    It’s not just the percentage you pay the recruiter – there’s the advertising, and the training it takes to get your new hire up to speed, and the many hours it takes your senior team to mentor them and grow their confidence and skills.

    Don’t let that investment walk out the door! Keep them happy instead.

    7 ways employers can help staff to develop and progress

    The trend that the media have dubbed, the ‘war on talent’, the ‘great resignation’, ‘quiet quitting’ are evidence of the difficulty employers are having now to retain and attract the best people.

    People crave recognition, they want to learn and grow but this doesn’t happen by accident.

    People need a clear path to follow with the access to the right training and excellent managers who know how to support them.

    By putting the following things in place, you can break down some of barriers that can get in the way of progression.

    1. Don’t micro-manage

      Give your people the opportunity and autonomy to develop skills and get better at what they do. We can all feel frustrated and lack energy when we aren’t progressing, which is why offering training and coaching to help staff with their CPD (Continual Professional Development) is so important.

    2. Find the sweet spot of setting ‘Goldilocks’ tasks

      When an employee is given a task, it should be at the right level. Pink calls these ‘Goldilocks’ tasks – too easy and the employee will be bored, but too challenging and they will feel disheartened. Projects should be ‘just right’ - taxing enough to encourage achievement and progression, with the right support in place, and a way of measuring and recognising the achievement when the project is completed. Goldilocks tasks, or stretch goals, often involve collaborative work.

    3. Clear career paths and KPIS

      Design and roll out ambitious career pathways, set clear goals and KPIs for your teams and coach your people so they can be confident, self-aware, and empathetic managers and colleagues, who are all engaged and committed to growing high performing, happy teams. Your people need a guiding north star to know what they are working towards and to keep them focused on what’s important. Additionally, by involving people in setting their own goals they will be more likely to engage with them too because they helped to create them.

    4. Embrace the squiggly career

      Focus on developing people’s strengths.

      Be flexible and embrace squiggly careers. Allow people to move between roles, industries and locations to follow their passions and aptitude. A static employee is likely to become disengaged.

    A lightbulb moment for many of our clients is when they realise that employees who are under performing or struggling, are more than likely in the wrong role, rather than lacking ability.

    The solution is to look sideways or up and down for other opportunities, not manage them out. While it’s important to have career pathways and defined roles, no career path should be so linear that it holds someone back.

    Top tips:

    • Look for the potential in your people

    • Allow them to work in alignment with their values and strengths

    • Think of the career path as a squiggle not a ladder.

    Develop your managers to be excellent leaders

    Managers are charged with ensuring their teams are progressing, but are they set up to manage people well?

    • Do your leaders have the right skills and mindset to manager others?

    • Do they know how to set KPIS, objectives and hold meaningful one to ones with their team members?

    • Do they know how to keep their team motivated and on track?

    • Are they comfortable with having challenging conversations and holding individuals to account?

    Often new managers feel out of their depth as they have never had to lead others and this is when imposter syndrome gets the better of them. This needs to be tackled head on as it can lead to poor management.

    Without the skills to manage, leaders can micro-manage. Relations with the team can falter due to easily avoidable problems, such as a breakdown of communication, lack of empowerment and trust in an employee / manager relationship. This can impact performance and stifle progression. People frequently leave organisations because of lack of trust in leaders, but this doesn’t have to be the case if they are set up for success.

    Invest in the team, not just individuals, through coaching

    All the best athletes, CEOs and high performers have coaches and mentors.

    Why? Because they know they can’t do it all on their own.

    They know how hard it is to stay on track with their goals. Setbacks will come, and they want to be able to manage through them and come out the other side better for it, mastering new skills along the way.

    However, coaching shouldn’t be just reserved for the elite. We see the best results when coaching is delivered throughout an organisation, at both an individual and team level.

    Coaching a team collectively raises awareness, builds trust and greater connections. It helps the team develop a common language to cope with current and future change and challenges, raising the level of performance for the long term, not just during the coaching programme.

    At the same time, one-to-one coaching provides individuals within the team with the time to think, to create and achieve ambitious goals and to maximise their performance. Every individual’s goals help the team to succeed.

    This creates a symbiotic relationship between the individuals, the teams and the whole organisation as they work in partnership towards being great!

    Create an intrinsically motivated culture

    We are motivated in two ways.

    1. By external motivators such as rewards, recognition, financial gains etc.
    2. By intrinsic motivators – which is our inner belief, sense of control and freedom to do more of what we enjoy.

    In Drive, Pink argues that external motivators, the traditional carrot and stick approach to motivation is outdated and doesn’t fit in more modern workplaces that demand creativity and innovation. However, extrinsic motivation is well-established in certain industries can be a hard habit to break.

    Intrinsic motivation is becoming more common in workplaces where innovation is valued. To be motivated intrinsically, it’s important that people can do the work they really love doing and improve and grow in that area, and then be rewarded for it.

    If you feel in control – have a belief that all will be ok, you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, you can choose how you respond – you will be more motivated to progress. This is called having a strong internal locus of control and is linked to higher levels of wellbeing, resilience and performance (Daisley, Fortitude)

    For more information on setting intrinsic goals read this blog buy Louise Otton our Executive Coach on setting meaningful goals.

    Create meaningful goals


    Research shows that in order for employees to progress, thrive and be happy they need to be able to work from a place of intrinsic motivation, in a strengths-based culture, that has a clear purpose.

    You can achieve this with defined roles, career paths, KPIS and objectives, but you also need to offer the flexibility and freedom to squiggle along that road if necessary.

    Ideally you will allow everyone to work in a way that is aligned to their strengths within the realms of what is practical in the organisation.

    Creating a culture of Autonomy and Progression connects everyone to the business Purpose. Our HAPPY 365 team is on hand to help you to drive your people to give their best.

    It’s Law 365’s mission to help you to grow your business with less risk, and this is an important tool to achieve that.

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