Employees’ interests to develop and grow their careers can be like a strong craving for their special food. They may hold it off for a little while. They may find a temporary substitute. But that hankering will persist until they truly satisfy the hunger. Sure, there are company training and career tools, and the semi-annual formal discussions, but the satisfaction of having career development served up on a regular basis, makes the manager the most crucial ingredient in providing the meal. When the manager is regularly involved in growth and career conversations, then engagement, retention and performance are increased.
Yet, managers feel hard pressed to do the job right for several reasons: lack of time, lack of information to share with each employee, and perceived negative pay off if those employees go elsewhere. Enter a new book by our colleagues Bev Kaye and Julie Giulioni, "Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go". Here’s the good news they deliver: Managers do not need to do the heavy lifting of career development (that can be left to the employees.) The manager’s key role, according to Bev and Julie, is guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action. This takes place in ongoing conversations full of great questions asked with intense curiosity.
What to tell managers about their legitimate concerns? Try these:
Time constraints >> Break the big prickly discussion into bite sized pieces, served up periodically in informal discussions throughout the year. Major preparation is not needed. Focus more on asking interesting questions and seizing the right moments after the series of conversations to help employees net out the meaning.
Knowledge vacuum (when it comes to career options) >> As Bev and Julie say, “You don’t have to have all the answers. But, what’s not negotiable is that you have the questions.” Guidance on the questions to ask can come from expert resources such as “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.” After a while you will know what questions to ask that show sincere interest and lead to productive conversations chocked full of discoveries for the employee and you.
Perceived negative pay off >> Employees may leave sooner or later as they develop. Eventually, many do. Yet you have more committed performers while they are with you and the developmental focus makes your department sought out by the employees who want to grow and contribute more. And, remember, if they don’t grow they will go!
Career development . . . employees crave it. There are practical and powerful ways for managers to serve it up through ongoing question driven conversations. The just desserts for you and your company: increased engagement, retention and performance.)
Listen to this exclusive interview we conducted with Bev Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni to hear more about the highlights of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.
Photo credit: WebMD