More than half (52%) of North American employees plan to look for a new job this year (Source: Achievers Workforce Institute).
COVID has shaken things up and employee retention and engagement are critical issues. If your employees don’t see the opportunity to grow and develop their careers, they are a flight risk. Layered on top of this is the challenge of fostering high employee engagement and a culture where employees want to come to work. Interestingly, the #1 factor that holds back engagement is lack of career growth (Source: Future of Work).
Progressive employers are responding by cultivating career coaching conversations. As reported by Forbes, they know that ‘Career conversations are a critical retention strategy and succession planning activity’.
By definition, a career conversation provides an opportunity for an employee to discuss their career goals, access strategies to close the gap between their current performance and their career goal and build a career action plan to guide their success. With over 20 years’ experience coaching managers to engage in career conversations with their employees, we know that career conversations create greater job satisfaction, increase employee engagement, help retain and develop your talent, and support succession planning.
But there are often concerns about launching into these conversations. In our workshop: Career Conversations: Engaging and Retaining Your Employees, we hear managers’ concerns: ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I can’t take on managing my employees’ career development’, ‘What if they are thinking of leaving?’ or worse, ‘What if they want my job, and I’m not leaving. Then what do I say?’ Overall, most people managers echo: ‘I just don’t feel equipped to have these conversations’.
Before jumping into these conversations, consider where your employees feel their careers are at. Many feel stuck in their jobs without options for change, career advancement, or growth. And if they have the ‘golden handcuffs’ – good pay, good benefits, and vacation leave, they can feel locked into unfulfilling jobs.
Alternatively, if your employees are ambitious, or as many managers have stated, ‘overly ambitious’, the challenge is they don’t see the gaps between where they are and where they want to be. They don’t have the insight to know what skills or competencies are needed to succeed, and how to navigate your organization to build their career success. So, either they are frustrated and stay, applying to any and all job postings to get them unstuck from their current role, or they leave.
By understanding our employees and where they are coming from, we can better prepare for these conversations. I assure you though, you don’t need to have all the answers, nor are you responsible for paving the way for their career advancement. Your role is to have a simple conversation – 30 minutes can do it. Start with the question: How do you want to grow or develop your career with our organization? Then, focus in and listen.
From this question, you will find one of two situations. They are either unsure about how they want to develop and grow their career, or they are unsure of how to reach their career goal. Starter questions include: What positions might you be interested in exploring or maybe transitioning into? What do you know about the requirements for that position? What skills and experience will you need to strengthen to reach your career goal? Your role is to ask questions to help them gain clarity as to what roles they may want to explore in your organization, and what’s standing in the way of their career growth.
As their guide, you can provide advice as to strategies you have used to help move your career forward, suggest career paths that you think would be a good fit, and provide practical advice about what they need to do to close the gap between their current performance and the role they are targeting.
Remember, career coaching is 90% attitude and 10% technique. You don’t have to have all the right questions or have all the answers. You just need to be present, ask a few key questions, then focus in and listen. The gift of listening is sometimes the greatest thing we can give to our employees.
Employee Retention Strategy for the Post-Covid World (Source: Awardco)
Building a Career Development Roadmap for Your Organization (Source: JL Careers)
Need help getting started? JL Careers provides leading-edge career development resources and a Managers Guide to Conducting Career Conversations workshop. Contact us to discuss how career conversations can support your talent engagement and retention strategies, and your employees’ career development needs. We look forward to hearing from you!
Wishing you much success!
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc