Role vs Grow Players: The Hidden Distinction that Makes a Difference

Have you ever tried to push someone to grow in their position and they simply didn’t want to grow? Or had a great staff member leave for a new opportunity because they felt stagnant when they worked for you? Most business owners and leaders have experienced this, and many are left wondering why that person wasn’t ultimately a good fit, particularly if you had a hand at coaching or mentoring them during their time with your company.

Today I wanted to share with you some tips that I teach my business coaching clients about how to differentiate between role and growth players and why it makes a world of difference in their employee turnover and expectations.

First, a little introspection.

At the time that you came to the conclusion that you had a team member that was no longer a good fit, did you connect the dots that your attempt at getting them to grow (or not giving them opportunity(ies) to grow might have impacted their decision to leave? If not, looking back at the situation do you feel that they could have stayed at the company if you had addressed their desire for growth or pushed less? When you hire a new team member do you even consider whether they are a growth player vs a role player?

Behaviors to look for.

There is a time and place for growth players and role players, but understanding the difference can be tricky. Here are some behaviors to look for to help distinguish between the two.

Role players are great at what they do and are eager to do it. When presented with a new task they may be hesitant and tend to be closed off and defensive when it comes to feedback. They just want to put their head down and complete the tasks on their to do lists. They will likely be unresponsive to pushes for growth, and may end up looking for another position if they feel as if they are being asked to step too far out of their comfort zone.

Growth players on the other hand are eager to grow and learn from you. They like new challenges and will often get bored if asked to do the same thing day in and day out. They enjoy feedback and will take your words and make necessary changes to become better in their position. Your biggest challenge with a growth player is keeping them in a growth position. If they get stagnant, they may look elsewhere for another position that will challenge them.

Finding the right balance

Once you have a good idea where your current staff falls on the growth to role player scale, it’s important to take note of how best to help them be successful in their respective positions. And when you hire for another position, ask yourself before you begin your candidate search whether you are looking for a growth or role player. This will help you identify the right skills and behaviors right off the bat, and you will have a much better chance of hiring successfully the first time.

A word of caution.

The last thing I want to mention here, is to be truthful about what you are looking for in a new hire. All too often, I hear business owners saying that they want a growth player in every single position but that’s not really feasible. Not only does it make it almost impossible for the growth players to find new opportunities for growth, but it can lead to a lot of growth but not a lot of actual doing. Most businesses will do well with a mixture of both types of employees on their team. 

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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An open minded personality.. fun to be with, because of my positive vibes. God fearing, for without God I am nothing.. Moved with compassion when dealing with you, not selfish or self-centered...

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