In this episode, Josh takes an in-depth look at employee ambitions, and why it is important for your organization. 

Episode 48 | Employee Ambitions

[00:01] Welcome to The Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney: [00:16] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney and welcome to The Epic Company Culture podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcasting space. The topic of today is employee ambitions. One thing that I enjoy understanding is where a person wants to go, what drives them, how do they want to grow, who do they want to be, and above all, how do we get them there.

[00:43] For me it’s a little bit different because I want to know how we get them there, whether it’s inside or outside of our business, because it gives me an idea of what their passion is. I know that most people aren’t going to stay forever, so if they can be around for three, four, five years and be extremely happy with their growth plan and where they’re going, and it gets them to where they want to be in life, then that’s a success for me. How do I uncover this? How do I have sessions and figure out what that in ambition, is and how do I really dig deeper.


[01:14] One of the things that I do is really just ask them what their long-term career goals are. So, when somebody first comes into the organization, we’re going to sit down, we’re going gonna, have a conversation around who do they want to be We joke because no matter what age, it’s kind of who do you want to be when you grow up, type of conversation, what are your goals? What are your life goals and where do you see yourself in five and ten years? And when you ask somebody where they see themselves in five or ten years, you start to get very different answers than where do you see yourself next year? Next year is a lot of times is going to be in the business and where they’re at now. Maybe with some goals in there, but five and ten years starts to give you a really outlook on where they want to go.

Take action

[01:54] If we can align their growth plan with where they want to go in ten years, then we have a better chance of keeping them happy and satisfied while they’re there, growing them as a person and eventually they can get there and sometimes people will discover things about themselves along the way, where that’s going to get shifted. It’s all about finding how to help them get there. Now, the other thing that we do is we look at ways to unblock anything that’s in their way. So, one way that I look at this is I had a blocker, I’ve had a few blockers in careers, and what I found was a lot of times I knew where I wanted to go. I was working in an organization, I knew where I wanted to go, I knew what role I wanted next and I had to proactively bring that up to management and I had to, a lot of times it’s an annual review process. You go in for that one-year review and you say, okay, well next year I want to be there, I want to be in the next spot. That’s where I want to grow to.

[02:52] I remember one time I got into a conversation, it’s like, well, that sounds good. They didn’t really engage a whole lot from it. I don’t know if they just didn’t believe in it, didn’t care, it was outside their department, I’m not really sure. But the response that I got was lacklustre, the other part of the response was that, “well, we’d have to backfill your position and how are you going to train for that one, it’s in another department” and there was all these reasons. Almost a year later, I’m just at maybe my two-year mark in that role, I get the opportunity somewhere else to go take that role in that organization. So, that company could have retained me as an employee in another role that I would have been more satisfied with and that was part of my career trajectory. But nobody had that conversation and there wasn’t anything as part of the culture of that organization that helped people get there.

Larger Organizations

[03:42] One thing I would like to highlight from that is, as a larger organization when you’re looking at a larger organization, you really have to look at the career goal in the organization. A lot of people get protective, right? They have managers that are protective and they’re like, well, that’s not in our department. So, they just let it go. There’s no cross compartmental growth goals, there’s no career growth goals if it’s outside of that department. That’s another thing that you might want to have as a takeaway and be careful of is, if you’re a larger organization, do you have cross departmental career goals and growth goals for those people?

[04:20] In closing, the items that we have around employee ambition are, understand where they want to go, make that part of the organization, make that part of their growth goals, and also look at how you can help them grow, whether it’s cross departmental or throughout their career in the organization.

[04:43] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of The Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you’d like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1, or email at podcast@epicculture.co.