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Dec 14, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

How do you get your leaders obsessed with the career development of their team?

This was a question put to us recently by one of our business clients. They, like many of the organizations we work with, are looking to drive retention and engagement through compelling customized career conversations with talent.

Our career pathing software provides the framework, leaders often have support from HR, as well as training on what a great coaching conversation looks like. But even then, compelling and meaningful career growth conversations seem far and few between.

Our recent benchmarking research covering a range of global organizations measured the relationship between key career engagement drivers against bottom line results. It came out as no surprise that the top driver of career engagement was the relationship between manager and employee, in particular how much managers care about a person’s career experience with the business.

How can we create an environment where leaders are obsessed with career development?

Making it easier to talk about

Start by making conversations easier by:-

  • Giving employees the chance to do some deep career reflection prior to the conversation to ease the burden. This also signals that career development is a partnership between both parties. After all we should all be driving our own careers, our manager is there to guide and coach us.
  • Offering simple, practical guidelines to support managers during these conversations to increase their confidence. Either through the use of career engagement software such as ours which produces manager career coaching reports, or through tip sheets and workshops.
  • Support your time poor managers by encouraging them to build these conversations into regular one to one catch ups throughout the year, with a more in-depth conversation where needed, such as at development planning time.

Raise the importance of career development conversations

  • Are your senior leaders making the career development conversation a priority? If senior leaders spend all their 1 to 1 time with their direct reports discussing business metrics and KPI’s, what message does that signal? Managers are likely to emulate what they see from leaders in the business.
  • Consider the bold move of linking these to your leader KPI’s. Some engagement survey technology gives us the ability to pulse survey teams and ask the questions about the manager’s ability to hold regular and meaningful conversations.
  • Do you have anyone in your business who is already great at this? If so, heighten their status in the business. They become your rock stars of personal growth, a manager that hopefully others will admire and seek to emulate.

Make everyone obsessed with career development

  • Promote peoples career stories internally that support key messages, such as successful lateral moves.
  • Create a career development hub online – a one stop shop for everything to do with development, it could house pathways mapping, development planning guides, eLearning, career stories, manager guides and much more.
  • Make it everyone’s responsibility to support each other’s growth – you might like to ask key business influencers to hold open career Q&A sessions sharing their journey and offering advice to others.
  • Create career advocates in your business as an alternative to manager conversations. These are advisors who are experts in your business and can offer career advice and coaching to all of your people. This is a trend taking off in the US, with a plethora of new roles being created such as career manager, someone who specializes in advising on internal career paths.

If we think back on our own careers no doubt we can remember the managers that took the time to have a compelling and meaningful career conversation with us, it’s something we never forget. Help your leaders to create these moments with their team.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.