By Burkhardt Prigge, Kepner-Tregoe

Your company wants your employees to continually grow and develop new skills so they can contribute to your business’s future success.  Your employees want to feel challenged, appreciated and have opportunities to learn new skills and do new things.  This type of growth mentality is exactly what your company needs to develop and sustain competitive differentiation, operational excellence, and employee satisfaction. 

It sounds like everyone is on the same page, right?  Maybe not… A 2018 retention study by Workers Institute found that “lack of opportunity to learn or develop new skills” was the top reason employees gave for leaving their jobs and finding a new one.  Kepner-Tregoe global training leader Jason O’Neill was featured in the June edition of Fast Company magazine talking about how to keep employees happy and improve your company’s success.

Hiring the person, not filling the job

For many companies, the problem starts with the hiring process.  Posting job vacancies and recruiting employees based solely on their fit for the near-term needs of a specific role sets the wrong tone.  Hiring is like dating, the goal is to find a compatible match that will lead to a fulfilling long-term relationship.  That means looking at candidates based on their potential, not just how well they can perform the specific tasks that the role involves today. 

Hiring for growth involves looking not just at skills but also at things like interests, ambitions, creativity and the general mindset of the candidate in comparison to the evolving needs of your company.  Does your company need to drive operational efficiency?  Are you looking to expand into new products/services?  Does your customer service need improving?  The candidates that you consider for openings in your organization should be able to do the job today but also help you change and achieve the goals that you have for the future.

Growing your people = growing your company

Human resources (people) are one of the best investments that your company can make.  But unlike a piece of equipment that you pay for up-front and depreciate as time goes on, the investment in your people needs to be ongoing (and we’re not just talking about paying salaries) for you to get the most benefit from everyone.  Growing your company means increasing capacity, expanding the breadth of ideas/perspectives, and creating situational potential that can be turned into profits.

The best way to achieve each of these growth outcomes is to develop the skills, experience and capacity of the people on your team.  Yes, you could go out and hire more employees (and there are times when this is the right approach) but all to often, the most impactful growth opportunities come from the employees you already work with.  Skills training, job rotations and mentoring are all great ways to give your people opportunities to grow and learn new things.


Complacency is the killer of employee morale.  Employees who are engaged in meaningful work, learning new skills and acquiring experiences that lead to future opportunities are happier, more engaged and more impactful than those who are simply there to “get the job done and go home”.  Providing opportunities for your employees to stretch beyond their current job role through rotation, special projects, increased responsibility or engagement in an area of interest can not only improve employee satisfaction and retention but also lead to the breakthrough growth opportunities that the company seeks.

Embracing a growth mentality in your company starts with hiring the right people, followed by ongoing investment in their skill training and experiences that will enable them to stretch beyond their basic job role and have a greater impact on the company.  For over 60 years, Kepner-Tregoe has been working with companies to develop leadership skills, empower employee productivity and implant continuous improvement into our client’s company culture.  To learn more, visit