Employee Tips to Improve Career Development Discussions

a business woman on how to Improve Career Development Discussions

Employee Tips to Improve Career Development Discussions
Especially if you conduct career development conversations only once a year, you as a manager need to be sure you’re able to get as much information as you can about what dreams your employees have for their career.  After all, we know that employees who feel valued and supported in their continued job growth are more fully engaged in their work.

Implications for Employee Engagement
While many areas and actions matter in terms of engaging and retaining employees, there are two in particular that a manager can leverage when talking about an employee’s future track: (1) Feeling Valued and (2) Job Satisfaction.  And you should care – our employee engagement research based upon surveying over half a million employees across more than 5,000 organizations every year shows that engaged workers are over 40% more productive and effective than their unengaged counterparts.

Feeling Valued
As you might expect, whether an employee feels valued is highly correlated with their engagement in their work. Managers help shape an employee’s perceptions about the organization’s commitment to its people – from investing in employee development through fairly compensating employees to commitment toward making the company a great place to work.

Job Satisfaction
An employee’s job satisfaction focuses on the intrinsic value an employee finds in their role. Does the role challenge them, utilize their unique strengths, and fit into their long-term career aspirations? All things being equal, happy employees are more likely to be engaged employees.

Maximize the Effectiveness of Career Conversations
Here are four tips to improve career development discussions:

1. Be Specific
Questions that are too broad elicit general answers. You want to tap into the kinds of work that truly motivates your employees.  What, specifically, in their current job excites or challenges them?  Would they like more opportunities to do this kind of work?  And where in the organization do these opportunities exist?

2. Talk About Opportunities for Growth
Discuss ways that they can grow meaningfully in their job. Would they benefit from a mentor or coach?  Are their development programs that will advance them along their career path?  Would different projects or a job rotation make sense?

3. Set Clear and Meaningful Goals
Work together to set short-term, achievable goals that aim toward longer term aspirations. If, for example, an employee wants to improve their presentation skills with a view toward more confidently addressing executives, talk about what can be accomplished in three months, six months, and a year.  The plan might include a presentation skills program that focuses on content and delivery with lots of practice for the first step; presenting to the team on two different topics for the second; and a 15-minute presentation to senior managers on a topic of interest for the third.

4. Check in on Progress Regularly
Don’t consider the discussion “one and done.” Your job as manager is to stay connected, track progress, and support achievement of the agreed-upon goals.  Be there to advise, guide and celebrate each milestone.

The Bottom Line
Do you know what each member of your team wants to accomplish in their work life and why?  The better you understand and help them reach their goals, the more productive they will be, and the more effective you will be as a manager.

To learn more about how to improve employee engagement, download 6 Manager Strategies to Move the Engagement Needle

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