How to Engage Employees Through Career Conversations

Antoinette Oglethorpe explaining how to engage employees through career conversations

At the beginning of 2015, a large financial services organisation contacted me to ask for help with how to engage employees through career conversations.  They wanted to upskill their in-house coaches with the skills to talk to employees about their careers.  They had a pool of about 40 managers who make up their internal coaching pool. And while they had been trained in Results Coaching, they had not received specific training around coaching for career development and lacked confidence in how to have those conversations.  They were also looking to re-energise employees to take charge of their own career development.

In this post, I share the approach we took:

Career Conversations that Engage Employees

“How to engage employees” is an enormous subject with lots of opportunity for discussion.  But one key strategy is through career conversations.  Research by the CIPD shows that a key driver of employee engagement is the meaningfulness of their work and the fit between a person and their job.

I ran a one-day workshop to introduce the coaches to the Career Conversation Toolkit and to help them develop the skills to use it effectively.  The workshop and toolkit were extremely well received by the participants for their role as managers as well as their coaching role.

“Very helpful, straightforward toolkit – enabled rich conversations and succinct discussions!  The workshop reinforced to me that career conversations are not linear.  The toolkit gives opportunity for further exploration and opportunities.”

After the workshop, a manager called Chris explained how he had used the toolkit to engage and empower one of his employees, Carol.  Chris was a Client Services Director.  He explained that until the workshop he had been avoiding having a career conversation with Carol because he knew she wanted to be promoted to Account Manager.  There wasn’t the opportunity to do that.  There was only one Account Manager role and it was filled.

After the workshop, Chris sat down with Carol to have a career conversation.  He used the Future Success tool to move past the job title “Account Manager” and to explore with Carol what she wanted her experience at work to involve.  He said “Carol talked about working more closely with clients, managing the team responsible for developing the whole client solution and leading client presentations.  She also wants to be doing more to develop the department and how it’s run.  She’s ambitious and she wants the challenge that comes with new roles and responsibilities.  And that’s great because I can give her opportunities to do all of those things to a greater or lesser extent in her current role”.

Chris went on to explain that he then used the Career Checkpoint tool to connect the future success Carol had described with the current reality.  It allowed both of them to identify all the ways Carol’s current role was already satisfying her ambitions.  They were then in a better position to work through the Short-Term Milestones tool to agree what Carol wanted to be different over the next 12 months.  Finally, he used the Setting Off tool to encourage Carol to commit to do-able actions that would help her make progress.  Her immediate next steps included accompanying Chris to a client meeting later that month.  She also committed to preparing for that meeting by reviewing the client file and discussing with Chris in their one to one the following week.

Chris said “I am so delighted with the way things have turned out.  Carol literally bounces into the office now.  She’s so much more energised and motivated than she was before.  At one point I was worried I was going to lose her but now she’s going from strength to strength”

Click here to find out more about the Career Conversation Toolkit >>

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