BL&T No. 004: Paving the Way for Employee Growth

Personal Growth

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


“Sometimes people really want to grow and are capable of contributing more than they have been allowed to; at other times, they simply want more money or recognition but don’t really want to change the way they work or contribute anymore than they do already. As the boss, you’re the one who’s going to have to know your direct reports well enough to make these dissections and then have some Radically Candid conversations when you see things differently.”

From "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott


The promotion of an employee is an opportunity to recognize their growth and set them on the right path for continued development in their career. I was happy to announce two promotions last week. As I wrote the announcement email to the team, I started thinking about all that had come before that moment.

Last year, I approached each employee about their future at Barrel. I felt they were both on the right track to move into a new role in the coming months, but did they know?

They didn’t.

How could they get to the next step without knowing the destination? I knew that nothing could replace a focused, honest conversation, even if I had given them what seemed like direct feedback in the past. We aligned on what the next role looked like, what it would take, and a realistic timeline to get there.

The conversation continued over the next several months. We checked in on their progress during monthly 1-1s and ad hoc meetings. Both employees soon started taking on increased responsibility within the team and on projects. Even when there were challenges, they persevered and used any feedback as fuel

In the end, I am proud of all that both employees have accomplished in a fairly short amount of time. They have proven what they are capable of to themselves and the team. Their new titles don’t carry an overwhelming weight of responsibility; instead, they mark the beginning of a journey that each employee feels prepared for.

Lesson? An employee's success is not entirely in their control. It starts with an employee's desire to grow and their manager's ability to show them the way.

Thought Starter

Do I know where I’m going? Personally? Professionally? Describe your destination in a few sentences.

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