When I was a teenager, I worked at a grocery store. I worked hard and was eager to learn. My manager took me under her wing and helped me rise up the ranks, so to speak, from a cart pushing, grocery bagging, bathroom cleaner, to supervisor and eventually the store trainer.

One day, I asked my boss why she took such an interest in me and she shared a gem of knowledge that has stuck with me ever since. She said that there were two reasons: 1. I worked hard and showed a desire to learn and advance and 2. Her chances of advancing would be better if she had someone prepped and ready to replace her, in the event that an opening occurred.

I’ve carried this piece of advice with me through the various leadership positions that I have held since then. Share your knowledge with your staff and help them grow. I’ve met people over the years that refuse to share their knowledge because they feel they have job security if no one else knows what they know.  That thought process can backfire because it’s hard to get promoted if no one else can do your job.

Photo by Jeff McNeill

First, identify those associates who have expressed a desire to advance. You can’t groom everyone to move up because not everyone has the desire and some associates just may not be the right fit. Employees who are in school and have made it clear that when they graduate will be moving on to become a meteorologist, for example, aren’t the ones you should groom for next steps.

After you have identified the right candidate(s), slowly start sharing your knowledge. Ease them into the process with bits of information so they have time to digest everything.  Remember that they still have their normal job duties. Dumping all of your knowledge and responsibilities on them may turn them off and will likely be very overwhelming.  Also, having associates prepped and ready to replace you means that you can sneak away for a vacation from time to time without bringing your laptop or being glued to your phone and it’s a great test for your protégé.

Good luck!


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