Top Ten Strategies on Facilitating Career Conversations

This month’s “Top 10 Strategies” centers on the importance of managers having career conversations with employees. Surveys confirm that 4 out of 5 American workers are unsatisfied with their companies’ retention efforts and 3 out of 4 are not satisfied with future career growth opportunities at their company. Furthermore, half of all workers are unsatisfied with the level of support received from their managers.

Caela Farren, Ph.D. of Mastery Works, outlined the five critical elements to opening a career conversation with an employee: Appreciate, Assess, Anticipate, Align and Accelerate.

What follows are 10 specific strategies to help managers facilitate career conversations:

1. Recognize the implication of lower levels of employee engagement on productivity, quality and customer service.

Organizations are vulnerable to losing their top performers, which threatens productivity, quality and customer service. The cost of replacing top talent is significant and organizations need to be mindful as they assess their efforts to engage and retain talent.

2. Recognize that compensation is not the only way to improve employee satisfaction.

Through constructive dialogue, managers can help employees understand the rationale of compensation policies and address their concerns regarding the equity of current compensation programs.

3. Managers need to help employees understand what the organization is doing to retain talent.

Often times, organizational career development and employee engagement initiatives are not effectively publicized within the organization. Ensuring that employees are conversant with the organization’s commitment to retaining top talent will go a long way to building employee confidence. Building employee dialogue about these efforts will, in turn, go a long way to building employee trust.

4. Recognize that career development should be a joint effort between manager and employee.

We have often heard that employees should take primary responsibility for their own careers. However, career development should be a partnership between managers and employees. Having conversations around career development is one of the keys to building this partnership and sending the message to employees that managers are interested in their development.

5. Appreciate the uniqueness of employee talent, skills, abilities, personalities and accomplishments.

Every employee has his or her own unique set of talents, skills, abilities, personality traits and accomplishments. One of the most important things managers can do is help employees recognize how they can leverage their uniqueness in the organization.

6. Help employees discover their capabilities.

Feedback is critical to helping individuals gain an accurate assessment of individual and team performance. Building networks to provide feedback and perspective is essential to helping employees gather critical career information and build their personal reputation.

Help individuals align their career goals with where the organization is headed.

During these times of change, it is even more important for managers to help individuals see how their career goals match the organization’s mission, goals and critical objectives.

7. Help employees prepare for future trends within the industry.

In times of change, managers can help employees be proactive in understanding the implications of changes within the industry and different career choices that may be available.

8. Help accelerate learning for employees.

Managers can help employees build critical skills by leveraging current projects and mentoring opportunities to not only help the organization achieve specific goals, but help employees build critical skills and achieve their long-term career aspirations.

9. Ask powerful questions that prompt thinking and self reflection.

Asking powerful questions will send the message to employees that you really do care about them and are committed to helping them recognize their unique talents. It will also help you understand how best to support them.

10. Anticipate tough questions before engaging an employee in a career conversation.

It is helpful for you to anticipate answers to some questions that employees may have such as:

  • What career opportunities exist in our organization?
  • What specific career opportunities do you see for me?
  • How can I achieve my career goals within the organization?

My last suggestion is to do your own work! One of the most powerful ways to demonstrate your commitment to career development is to conduct an assessment of your own unique talents. Being honest with employees is a powerful way to build trust. Sharing your own concerns and challenges with employees is another way to build trust, which is critical to productive career conversations.

For more tips or additional information please visit www.spisolutions.com

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