“How do I move up?”
That’s a question that I get asked by newer employees from time to time. I think it’s a fair question, and I always try to share a little DZ history with those who ask.
in the early days of DZ, there was no “Management Team” to speak of, we had only a growing team of employees and myself. Other than HR and Accounting, I was in charge of all aspects of the business. We didn’t exactly have departments, because we all had to perform tasks that were outside our main job function. Over time, it became apparent that two things were intersecting: We had a need for some departmental leadership, and at the same time, some of my top performing employees wanted to get to the “next level. But I didn’t yet have a next level for them to get to.
One day I was out on sales calls with one of our salespeople who had a long career in management prior to working at DZ Solutions. That salesperson (for the sake of historical accuracy, his name is Scott, although I doubt he’ll ever read this) asked me “Tom, what is it that you enjoy doing the most? Those are probably the things you are good at.” He asked me other probing questions, which got me thinking.
I’d love to say that after my conversation with Scott, I immediately formed a management team, but that’s not the case. A few months later, I knew I had to figure something out to continue scaling the business––being the first-level manager for the 18 or so employees we had at the time was clearly the limit, and it was time to address the situation. I approached three of my best employees and asked each of them if they’d like to lead their respective departments. They all took some time to think and agreed––and they’re all still in leadership positions at DZ today, believe it or not!
Over the years, I’ve tried to continue to encourage a culture where customers and peers have a lot of influence over career trajectory. If someone’s peers respect them and they’re capable, and our customers appreciate a team member’s efforts, this should factor heavily. Just because someone has never held a position before, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance. However, this can create some unique challenges––what if someone tries out a new role and it’s not a great fit for them? It’s important to think about the risks vs. rewards.
I can definitely say that at least in my experience, the rewards have been off the charts. I believe it helps keep our newer employees excited too––to know that your manager is someone that DZ took a chance on means there’s a good chance DZ will take a chance on you, too! Metrics ARE important, but that doesn’t mean I want to let KPIs and MBOs stop us from recognizing raw talent and awesome effort. I’m sure there’s already a Moneyball for Career Development out there, but for now, we believe smart, motivated people still need an opportunity to get to the next level––and we’re committed to giving them that opportunity if it’s earned!
Do you remember a time you were working for a company that gave you a chance to prove yourself? We want to hear more about it!
Want to know more about careers at DZ Solutions? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will tell you about open positions.