Would you rather be a Jack-of-All-Trades or a Master of One? A generalist or specialist?
Both have their benefits.
Being a Jack-of-All-Trades means you can help nearly anyone who is in need of your skills on a range of projects. Plus, your professional experience grows across a wide variety of jobs and gain you tons of experience for each service.
On the other hand, being a master means you've achieved expertise of a skill or knowledge in a given area. To achieve this level, it's necessary to put in the time.
Related: Find out why upskilling employees not only boosts retention, but also gives your company a competitive edge.
In today’s climate, workers change careers as casually as if they were swiping right. While the single career path or job-for-life isn’t dead, the shift to multiple careers in one’s lifetime means that it's become less common for people to put in the hours necessary to reach the level of mastery in their role within an organization.
So how can you promote mastery among your employees?
Foster Mastery with Formalized Programs
A business can help its employees and management team to attain personal mastery with the aid of formalized programs. This can be done through trainings, consultancy and coaching, which can be provided to individuals, teams and even to the whole organization. Training and consultations should be designed to upgrade the knowledge, skills and ability of employees to help them assume greater responsibility in their current role and/or higher positions.
Mastering one’s role not only demonstrates an employee's commitment to their profession but also to the organization.
Putting formalized programs in place prioritizes professional growth and development by tailoring individualized plans that include clear role-based training objectives for each team member.
Training and Development Initiatives
To truly build talent and have employees outperform themselves, make training role-specific. Sections in the content should be devoted specifically to the job description and task implementation procedures. Leverage technology and tools that can help create and manage custom learning tracks.
Tuition and Professional Membership Reimbursement
Many people value continual education in life, but often cost and time commitments can prevent completing additional education. By covering the cost of advanced education or training, organizations allow their people to enhance their knowledge and skills, network with known experts and—ultimately—bring more advanced insight into the organization.
Employee development is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Your employees deserve encouragement, support and recognition throughout their development. Assign accountability partners or mentors, and dedicate resources to optimizing the experience for both mentors and mentees. Also, be sure to offer them advice for staying on track and pushing through challenges.
Offer Hands-On Learning Opportunities
Organizations that create transformative learning cultures don’t just succeed—they thrive. They know that learning is as natural as breathing, and they cultivate people’s potential through learning opportunities. Providing employees access to education and training means they’re learning as well as demonstrating initiative, and a genuine interest in the subject matter they're tasked with mastering. Consider on- and off-site opportunities to encourage your employees.
On-site: On-site training gives your people the opportunity to grow their abilities or discover new subjects within their specialty. This keeps them competent and inspires innovation with industry trends or new insights that may give them an advantage at work. When new technology rolls out throughout the organization, or when your brand launches a cutting-edge product or service, allow your team to experience it in a way that offers expert insight into its full capabilities and functionality. After all, they need to be able to speak to it and ultimately leverage it with customers or other team members.
Tip: Innovation labs—specifically, areas of your organization that foster inspiration and collaboration—are great for inspiring creativity among individuals and teams.
Off-site: An off-site location can make the training that much more special and memorable, not only due to the change in environment, but also because the setting can allow for a rich experience. There is an often overlooked value in employees spending time together outside of the office, networking or working on projects together in preparation for some other event. Employers should consider sponsoring team member conference attendance where your people can immerse themselves in the experience, test and expand their own knowledge, and network with fellow students of the trade. While prices often deter off-site opportunities, it’s important to understand how your staff becomes more efficient in their role, which can lead to higher profitability in the long term.
Mastering Employee Mastery
Mastery pays for organizational leaders who are willing to invest in the impact it brings to the table—especially in a market thirsty for disruptive innovation. The desire to improve at something that matters is one third of the trifecta that defines intrinsic motivation’s makeup. And according to motivation theory, intrinsically driven individuals almost always achieve more than their extrinsically driven counterparts in the long run.
People who find purpose in their work unlock the highest level of the motivation game. Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning and into work without groaning and grumbling. Organizations should capitalize on their most important asset—its people. Team members in your organization who have achieved personal mastery will better understand the business strategy of the organization and how their own actions contribute to their colleague’s and superior’s performance.
Tip: Tie efforts to your formal engagement and/or incentive initiatives, so employees can pool point earnings and maximize reward potential.
No organization can force its employees to want to become masters in their role—but smart organizations create an environment that fosters this pursuit. Our ebook, 50+ Ways to Motivate Your Employees for Measurable Results, is filled with insights from ITA Group as well as social scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Ariely, that can get the ball rolling.