Help Them Grow – Career Development
Graduation is an exciting time of year. As parents, family members and friends, we celebrate achievements with great ceremony and inquire about future plans. It’s a great reminder that we are made to learn and grow. As business owners, employees and managers, we must learn new skills and adapt to changing times or face stagnation. Let’s be proactive and promote growth for our team!
One of my current favorite books regarding career development is Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni. This book is a quick read, full of easy-to-apply practical advice that you can put into practice immediately for yourself or your team.
Career development is as important as it’s ever been. One of the most significant drivers of employee engagement is career development, which is the key to business outcomes: revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality and cycle time reduction. Managers can’t afford to neglect the development of their team.
Career Development Complaint:
Managers say “I don’t have time to have career development conversations. We are already busy and I have multiple people to manage.”
Help Them Grow Truth:
This framework is based on quick, conversations that happen frequently throughout the year. Once you start incorporating these conversations, they will develop naturally. Responsibility for career development rests squarely with the employee. Your role is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm and driving action.
Career Development Complaint:
Managers say “What if I put the time and energy into these conversations and then the employee leaves?”
Help Them Grow Truth:
Yes, sometimes an employee leaves for another position instead of growing with your team, but an equally dangerous situation occurs when employees stay but withdraw their engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for the work.
Activate Growth Through Questions
Helping others grow is easy if you have the right tools. This book uses key questions to activate the power of hindsight and foresight to gain true insight. Remember, you aren’t going to do the heavy lifting for the employee.
Chose a handful of these questions and drop them into your next one-on-one meetings or schedule a specific hindsight interview. Ask the question more than once if the employee answers briskly, without much thought. Remember to use radically intentional listening skills. Be patient, quiet and considerate.
Hindsight – Looking Back to Move Forward
Hindsight conversations are the foundation of career development. They are designed to spark thinking, encourage connections and promote discovery.
Hindsight allows employees to develop a clear view of their:
- Skills and strengths—what they’re good at
- Values—what’s most important
- Interests—what keeps them engaged
- Dislikes—what they want to steer clear of
- Preferences—how they like to work
- Weaknesses—what they struggle with
Self-perception is key. Your employees’ ability to take satisfying and productive steps toward career goals is directly proportionate to their self-awareness.
- Start by explaining that a solid career future is based on an understanding of who you are and what got you to where you are.
- With the employee, create a list of the various positions, roles, and jobs she has held.
- For each position, role or job, ask the following questions:
- Which parts brought you joy, energy and a sense of persistence?
- Which parts led to boredom, disengagement and a sense of just going through the motions?
- Look at what themes emerge. Using questions like these will help:
- How have your interests, values, and skills evolved over time?
- What will you definitely want to seek out in the future?
- What will you definitely want to avoid in the future?
Another way to harness the power of hindsight is to close out every quarter with brief employee check-ups. This is not a performance review. The goal is to diagnose what is going on in the employee’s heart and head.
- What was the best part of the quarter for you?
- What work did you find most satisfying?
- How often were you stretched and how did that feel?
- At what points did you feel your energy and engagement lagging?
If you make this a habit, you’ll help employees turn their day-to-day experiences into profound self-awareness that can impact career decisions—and a lot more.
Foresight – Looking Ahead with a Plan
Foresight conversations are designed to keep employees looking forward and outward toward changes, trends and the ever-evolving big picture. Foresight helps others focus their career efforts in ways that will lead to satisfying and productive outcomes while benefiting your organization.
Where most career conversations are personal, one-on-one interactions, foresight conversations are best enjoyed by a group. Efficient and fun!
Here are a few simple questions that help promote foresight among your team:
- What are some of the most important things you learned?
- What might these things mean to our industry?
- What might they mean to our organization?
- How might they affect our products/services/revenue stream?
- How might they impact our department?
- What do they mean for you, your job, your career goals?
Fill in the Blanks
Another approach to engaging employees in big pictures conversations is just to set aside a few minutes and ask them to complete provocative sentence stems such as
- The most significant change I’ve seen in our industry is ____________________________
- I predict the next big thing will be ____________________________
- Our business would be turned upside down if ____________________________
- To keep my edge and pursue my career goals, I’m going to need to ____________________________
Insight – The Sweet Spot
Where hindsight and foresight converge, opportunities exist. Creating an environment where employees are encouraged to review their projects, attitudes, and accomplishments with hindsight and look toward the future of their career, industry, and desires with foresight fosters insight. Insight brings true growth. Growing and developing employees will benefit your team and your business.
Start using the Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go method of career development today and watch your team members graduate, flourish and grow in their skills!
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