Recently, a client asked for my help with training their managers to have a career development discussion. They wanted employees to take charge of their own career management but managers lacked skills and experience.
The managers were nervous of initiating a career development discussion because:
- They felt they didn’t have enough time
- They lacked confidence and worried it would invite problems
- They were nervous they wouldn’t have all the answers to manage expectations.
Skills to have a Career Development Discussion
I ran a one-day “Confident Career Conversations” workshop. It introduced the managers to a Career Conversation Toolkit. And it helped them develop the skills to have a career development discussion.
The Career Conversation Toolkit and Confident Career Conversations workshop are based on some simple but powerful ideas:
- Employees should take responsibility for their own careers. They should be proactive in their career development;
- Employees will manage their careers better if they have information and support from the organisation. The company and employee should form a “career partnership” based on conversation and negotiation to both sets of needs.
- Organisations have a vested interest in helping employees develop their careers within the orgnisation
The workshop and toolkit were extremely well received.
A Career Development Discussion in Practice
After the workshop a manager told me how he put his new skills into practice. During a regular one-to-one catch up, one of his team brought up the topic of his career progression. It had been a busy period, he had been working hard on the delivery of a few challenging and strategic projects. He wanted to know how the management team perceived him. He also wanted to know where he was on the ladder to make it to the next level, the timeline involved and what he needed to do to get there. Typical questions for an ambitious millennial!
The manager started by recognising and highlighting the employees key achievements over the past 6 months. They then had an open discussion about the roles and responsibilities of the more senior role. This allowed them to identify areas for development, and requirements for promotion.
The manager spent some time questioning and exploring what was important to the employee about his career. In particular, she emphasised that he should not compare his career progression to a timeline achieved by others. In the end, the discussion took longer than 2 hours.
The manager felt that the time invested went a long way to build trust in their relationship. After the catch-up, she received an email that said:
“I had some questions and perhaps even some small concerns with regard to the more senior position. The chat was very helpful to clarify this and I feel you answered my questions as much as is possible for what can be a slightly abstract topic, so thank you.”
Later catch ups were more positive and open. And the employee took the initiative to improve and develop in the areas identified.
A great result for all concerned!