Career development helps people feel engaged and fulfilled in their roles and equips them to advance to the next level. Sometimes the conversations can be challenging, so how do you approach the topic of career development without making your people worry? Here are some tips to help you navigate career development conversations and keep them feeling supported.
Personalise the Conversation
Approaching the conversation with the individual in mind rather than taking a team focus is one way to make it a success. Everyone is different, and while a one-size-fits-all development chat may work for some people, others will come away feeling defeated or confused. There will always be employees who have goals and are constantly looking to move up the ladder, and then there will be others who work at a much slower pace bettering their skills before they would even consider making a career change. Tailor the conversation to each one and ensure the focus is on their needs with very specific goals in mind.
Maintain a Regular and Sustainable Connection
Quite often, the topic of employee development comes up only once per year in an annual review and is then lost in the mix with the day-to-day operations. These types of conversations need to happen regularly, with checkpoints to ensure that things are getting done and moving forward.
During your meetings, ensure the conversation does not stray onto other factors. Book a time with each member of your team every quarter to have a conversation about their progress and goals and continue informal chats in between to maintain the connection.
Let Employees Lead the Conversation
While you may think you understand what may be helpful to a particular employee, let them lead the conversation in case you’re way off the mark. Let them talk first to see where the discussion will go, and ensure to include internal and external development options. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable or insecure if their goals don’t align with yours. Discuss career progression, both natural or directed, and don’t be afraid to give your perspective if you believe it is relevant to help them make choices that will benefit them. Let them talk about their short and long-term goals so you can guide the conversation rather than direct it.
Never let someone leave the career development discussion feeling lost or confused. Create clear action points or plans that can be assessed, met, and readdressed regularly. If there is a to-do on the part of the employee, then follow that up with a to-do from the employer’s part to match it, whether it is check-in or shape next-step action points. There can never be growth without action in both the short-term and long-term, and employees should always be ready to help as much as possible. A natural mentorship tends to happen when the conversation is focused on positive career development geared directly toward the employee.
Once you have carried out your meeting, your job doesn’t end there. Support them and coach them as much as you can. Your relationships with your team will be stronger because you are willing to discuss career plans and options and support them in a more technically diverse and global workplace. Career development conversations can be tricky for a leader to delve into, but they are very important to ensure a motivated and skilled workforce that is willing to succeed and grow.
These conversations are vital to establishing a feeling of career security for each of your team members. If you would like to polish your skills in this area, you would benefit from one of our workshops on a topic like courageous conversations or Executive Coaching. Jump over to the website to find out more, or give me a call. This is an area of leadership responsibility that cannot afford to be deferred.