It wasn’t too many years ago that managers were seen as one or two-steps removed from the rest of their team, perhaps residing in a corner office somewhere. This is a world away from how successful managers need to operate today.
At any one time, a manager is likely delivering work, overseeing a team and translating leadership strategies into daily activities. In all the hustle and bustle of a manager’s day, stopping to have a meaningful conversation with their team might quickly fall down their priority list.
However, achieving all of the other tasks on their to-do list can be made a whole lot easier when employees are engaged. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to have better conversations with team members about their career aspirations and development needs.
A career conversation is not an annual appraisal
Career conversations with employees are something that many organisations know that they should do. Many companies hope that an annual appraisal process will trigger a meaningful conversation between a manager and their team.
A good starting point - however, often these processes become more of a ‘checkbox’ activity than a valuable experience for the employee. Companies are also increasingly recognising the need for more regular dialogue between a manager and employees.
Managers are the first point for career advice
Most individuals seek career support from their direct managers and work colleagues - especially when first starting out. However, only 16% of employees say that they have ongoing career conversations with their managers.
60% of employees have also stated that they’d like more input from managers on career goals. This is especially important to younger generations now entering the workforce. These individuals have grown up with information at their fingertips 24/7 - so an annual appraisal simply won’t cut it.
Career conversations increase the chance to retain great people
Having honest career conversations with employees helps to establish their sense of value to their organisation. By unearthing individuals’ personal aspirations makes it easier to understand how they fit with their team and business goals.
Career conversations have been found to be an effective way of retaining talent, with 75% of employees stating that they would be more inclined to remain with a company that has regular career discussions.
Proactively addressing the skills gap
Due to the rapid pace of technological change, there is a skills gap in many organisations. An effective, modern approach to people development can go a long way in plugging that deficit.
It’s difficult to train people for the future of work as we don’t know what [the future] will be. Soft skills will be really important
Every organisation is bound to have tasks that are at risk of becoming obsolete. Those that win will be the companies that harness the adaptable skills and talents of their people. Managers play a key role in uncovering those talents and helping their team to ‘future-proof’ their careers.
Meaningful career conversations can positively impact a business’ bottom line. Regular conversations between a manager and their team will increase employee engagement, diversify their skills (and potential value to a business) and drive productivity.
Businesses holding effective career discussions report a 50% increase in productivity compared to those that do not. Developing employees’ talents can also help an organisation become more agile, increase its competitiveness, and assist with future-proofing.
Why managers might avoid career conversations
It’s clear why careers conversations need to happen, but many of us (managers and team members alike) will avoid having regular reviews for several reasons:
By understanding these potential barriers to career conversations, leaders can more readily identify when these arise and find potential solutions for managers and team members.
3 important ingredients to enabling better career conversations
Additionally, good career conversations don’t necessarily need to be had between a manager and team. Employees should feel empowered to connect to a wider network of colleagues and career mentors - eventually developing their own personal board of career advisors.
Great career conversations are team effort
Having a good career conversation is an art that every manager can master if they choose to. Equally, their ability to do this can be boosted if individuals are supported to play their part in having career conversations.
For many of the brilliant talent/HR leaders that we interact with, creating the conditions for great career conversations is front of mind with many experimenting with ways to help both managers and their teams.
Getting it right can take some time, but it is something no business can afford to ignore.
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