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How to Manage Ambitious Staff

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Businesses will often put procedures in place to assist staff who are underperforming. Whether this is progress meetings, personal targets or even disciplinary action, most companies have some type of model readily available. However, many companies do not prepare or think of ways to manage staff members who are overly ambitious and are constantly seeking career progression.

This may sound like a strange thought when bosses everywhere are crying out for dedicated and ambitious personnel. However, ambitious staff like to plot and prepare for their next career moves and if your company is not offering career progression, then they may be quick to jump ship. For that reason, you need to implement ways to retain your most ambitious staff members.

The Benefits of Retaining Ambitious Staff

There is an argument that after spending money on recruitment campaigns or employing recruitment agencies on your behalf, you want to retain all your staff regardless of their levels of ambition. The money and business hours spent on recruiting staff lead to the prime benefits in retaining ambitious staff members – which is money and time.

There are many ways to lower your staff turnover, but one of the best is to retain them in the first place. If you can retain these individuals at the start of their career, you could easily have lifelong employees dedicated to your company.

There is another benefit in retaining ambitious staff. One university study found that ambitious people have been suggested to experience higher levels of dopamine release. This ultimately makes them happier people than their slacking counterparts. Thus, it could be suggested that there is a possibility of a correlation between having a team of go-getters and a happier workforce.

The Best Ways to Retain Ambitious Staff

To help your business keep hold of your most ambitious individuals, there are a number of things that you can do. Here are the best ways to keep these types of people engaged and interested in working for your company – and none of them involve the obvious promotion:

1. Hold Personal Development Meetings

Holding regular one-to-one meetings is a great way of opening a dialogue with your staff and getting to understand their intentions. It also makes the staff member feel valued and heard.

You can show the individual that there are opportunities for development and you can work towards these together. These meetings could also be considered a type of internal networking.

2. Review Pay

Many ambitious people are driven by money. Not always, but on many occasions, you can bide time with an employee until a promotion does become available with a well-deserved pay rise. However, just remember that you will need to offer the same pay rise to all your staff in the same role as the ambitious individual – unless you also followed our fifth tip, below.

3. Enhance Their Skills and Knowledge

Some staff members may agree that they are not ready for their dream job and recognise that to get there they need further learning and development. Online learning makes it easy to do this because it means that your staff can stay employed with you on a full-time basis and enhance their skills and knowledge in their own time, ready for when application day does come around.

There are many of these distance learning courses to choose from nowadays, from administration and marketing courses to business finance courses. Anyone in business can find an online course for them.

4. Be Open and Honest

Although you want to schedule meetings and show the staff member that there are possible career progressions at your company, you need to remain open and honest. Staff notice the potential for career progressions themselves. If you lie to them to keep hold of them longer, then they are likely to recognise this lie and are more likely to leave the company sooner.

5. Create Jobs

Sometimes, you may even need to create jobs that these people would be ideal candidates for. In doing so, you reward them for their work without having to have the capacity to offer promotions. It may increase their job satisfaction and give the feeling of a promotion, without necessarily needing to increase pay.


These are just five ways that your business can manage talented individuals that are striving for success.

Many businesses neglect the way they treat ambitious staff because it is more common to concentrate on managing underperforming staff and get the best out of them. Yet, retaining ambitious staff is just as valuable as improving the performance of your under-performers.

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