When Personal Aspirations don’t Align with Organizational Goals (Part 1)

At the start of their careers, most people only have a vague idea of what they want out of their careers. It is only when they progress in their job and gain hands-on experience that they begin to shape a more realistic blueprint of what they would like their career path to look like. There are several instances where an individual’s aspirations do not align with the organization’s goals.

A person may envision their career in a certain way but find that the direction in which the organization is heading is slightly at odds with the path that they are interested to pursue. Over time, this lack of alignment can affect the person’s motivation and engagement. If it is not addressed, the chasm is only likely to widen. How should an organization handle such situations?

Be Proactive, Not Reactive – Communication is Key

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

They say prevention is better than cure. Keeping the lines of communication open with employees can help prevent such misalignment in the first place. Several organizations have processes such as quarterly check-ins with managers/HR along with the regular annual performance appraisal discussions. If we analyze these discussions, however, we find that the bulk of the focus is on the individual’s role within the organization and future direction of the role. Very little discussion is focused on the person’s aspirations from an overall career progression point of view. This gap needs to be fixed.

Enable People to Be in Tune with the Big Picture

Developments in the larger meta industry environment have a huge impact on an organization’s progression. For instance, if we take the case of the automotive industry, a person who has deep expertise/interest in traditional IC engines might be less valuable to an organization as compared to someone who understands hybrid engines or solar/electric engines. Communicating this to employees and preparing them for what the future holds, is important. Also, offer training and mentorship to help the person come to speed and bridge the gap.

Be Prepared to Let them Go

When an employee finds themselves out of sync with the organization, there are generally two options. Either they wholeheartedly embrace the opportunities to align with the organization’s growth path, or they decide to part ways and explore their own path outside of the organization. Either of these scenarios is acceptable.

The important thing is to be clear and honest about the situation and take corrective action immediately.

In some situations, it can even so happen that person’s potential far exceeds what the organization can offer them. Watch this space for part 2 of this series to see how organizations can handle super achievers whose growth may severely outpace that of the organization.