As humans we are sort of ingrained to want success, financial stability and purpose. Many of us find these things through our careers. However, when it comes to career development, we seem to struggle to find the right words.
Career Development Conversations or Lack Therof
Have you ever had a conversation with your manager about your career development? Either these conversations are rare or they aren’t done well because according to a 2016 CEB report, “A lack of future career opportunities is the primary driver of employee attrition.”
What if one simple conversation could change that? Would you, as managers and leaders in your company, be willing to initiate that conversation?
According to Jenny Blake, career and business strategist and author of Pivot, “Setting dedicated time aside for career conversations once or twice per year improves retention, engagement, and internal mobility, and does not require a massive budget or highly specific tools.”
Blake suggests doing this because your employees will change and evolve with or without your help, but if you have these types of conversations, you can help your employees grow within your company.
Blake tells us, “Simply expressing interest in your team members’ development goes farther than you might expect.” How does this interest in your employees make an impact?
A Caring Culture Leads to Loyalty
In his book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek tells the story of a company that worked to change the culture to be one that was more caring and trusting of their employees.
The story goes, Bob Chapman became CEO of a company called HayssenSandiacre and quickly realized the atmosphere was one that made employees unhappy. He talked to those employees, listened to their concerns and implemented changes to improve the culture. This lead to HayssenSandiacre increasing their revenue from $55 million to $95 million.
Sinek tells us, “A new culture of caring allowed the people and strategies to flourish. This is what happens when the leaders of an organization listen to the people who work there.”
In his example, Sinek’s point was a business will be more successful financially if they pay attention to their employee’s needs. However, his story also illustrates how having conversations and listening to your employees leads to those employees having a sense of purpose and belonging within the company.
To put it all together, listening to and caring about your employees makes an impact. Having a career development conversation with your employees shows that you care about them and want to listen to their goals. Now, that we know career development conversations are a good thing to have, let’s learn how to best go about them.
How to Have Career Development Conversations
In her book Pivot, Blake gives tips on how managers should have these conversations with their employers. She tells managers to schedule a time to meet with employees that is separate from a performance review. This will allow for more open expression and less stress. Other tips from Blake for these career exploration conversations include:
· Let your employees do a lot of the talking about their interests and talents
· Decide what is working well now and what their future interests are
· Ask open-ended questions so your employees can lead the conversation
· Help them think about a one-year vision for themselves within the company
· Add your thoughts about their strengths and how they fit with the company
Blake insists that these conversations can help employees think about growing within the company rather than looking outside of the company for growth opportunities. And Sinek tells us why; he says, “as social animals, we feel stress when we feel unsupported.” If instead, our managers support us and help us in our careers, we feel trust, happiness and a sense of belonging.
Will this strategy help you with retaining every employee? Of course not. The truth is, you can lose employees for a number of reasons, but if you show interest and care about their career development, your employees will likely be happy to stay and develop within an organization that cares about them.