Are You Wasting Employees’ Talent?

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I divide great workers into two different camps. One group is hungry for every opportunity you can throw at them, asking about advancement from day one. I call these people “astronauts.” Light the fuse, and they’ll overshoot the moon. The second group is content to stay in their roles. They value detail and mastery, becoming absolute experts in their area and setting the standard for everyone else. You can’t run your organization without them; they build the foundation. I call this group “architects.”

Architects are absolutely solid in their role; they have little or no interest in expansion and advancement. This could be because they have a lot going on at home, so they don’t want to add more to their plates at work. Or maybe they have outside interests that are important to them — training for a triathlon, for example. For whatever reason (or no reason at all), architects are dedicated to their current role.

By contrast, astronauts are on a steep growth trajectory. If they don’t advance quickly after coming aboard, they’re likely to grow restless. They are “all in” from the beginning; their manager needs to give them appropriate opportunities to take off.

You need both astronauts and architects. Neither is “better” than the other. Without your architects, where will other team members turn for advice? On whom would you rely to get the job done well? And without astronauts, how will you achieve the levels of success you’re hoping to have? -Caroline Stokes

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2 Responses to Are You Wasting Employees’ Talent?

  1. Gail says:

    Thank you for this post. I am in the architect camp and appreciate the perspective that those who choose mastery of a role versus upward mobility are equally as valuable to the organization. How refreshing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • msw blog says:

      I too am a architect, I love my career, but I am not my career. I have outside interests that are important to me, but I respect the perspective of the astronauts, and thanks to Caroline Stokes, a better understanding how they form a complete team. Thank you for reading.


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