The Value of Career Conversations + Free Guide for Managers

It’s time to talk more openly and frequently about career development within the workplace. In this post, I share why it’s important and offer a practical guide for managers to support meaningful career conversations you can use today! 

As leaders, we know that career development is important, yet it’s the one topic that isn’t consistently taught or discussed. Too often, it simply is not prioritized over other competing demands, or for fear that talking about career development might increase attrition.

But in this great article from Antoinette Oglethorpe, a career mentor and coach states: “If you want your people to be committed to the organization, engaged with their work and driven to perform, you need to provide them with the tools and resources they need to manage their careers within the organization.”

Career development conversations are an important factor in building, motivating and developing highly skilled, engaged talent. The goal is to foster an environment where you as a manager or leader can make space for your employees to have those meaningful conversations.

This empowers employees to leverage up-skilling and opportunities to grow their career interests. A win-win for everyone!

What is a Manager’s Role?

As a manager, you are a representative of your team. Part of your responsibility is to inspire, guide and support your employees in the formulation, planning and navigation of their career journeys. It is your role to help create a safe space for employees to share their interests and aspirations.

Note that what your employees value in terms of career development might be very different from what you value.

It is the employee’s responsibility to define what a satisfying career looks like to them, and how they will achieve it.

As such, the traditional linear view of a career as a ladder has been replaced by something resembling a rock-climbing wall, where advancing involves moving up and laterally toward an individual’s own definition of career success.

This means they must actively manage their career at all phases: explore options, put together career plans and take steps towards fulfilling them.

Yes, career-related support can be provided through learning opportunities, stretch assignments, mentoring, networking and more. But in order to leverage these tools, the official career conversation needs to take place first!

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.” -Simon Sinek

Why is it Important to Talk About Careers with Employees?

The purpose of a career conversation is to help employees identify their goals and create a development plan to reach them.

There are two main benefits to having regular career conversations:

1. They help enable a learning culture that empowers them to continuously grow and develop.
2. There is a direct correlation between regular career conversations and a more engaged and productive workforce.

And by having a conversation that is focused on the employee’s future career plans, you can help them:

  • Identify their career-related strengths and development needs
  • Anticipate barriers that might block career development
  • Determine what resources are necessary
  • Manage their career and development planning expectations
  • Develop greater ownership for their own career development

Benefits to managers:

  • Build more open, trusting relationships
  • Develop a greater understanding of staff members’ future development challenges
  • Increase awareness and alignment between employees and the organization’s needs
  • Build a strong reputation as a supportive manager
  • Improve the retention and motivation of employees

To support more meaningful career conversations, download a free Manager Conversations Guide to help you feel more prepared and at ease.

If you are ready to transform your team’s growth and development but want additional support, you can book time for private 1:1 session for more guidance. Visit Mentor Minutes to schedule a complementary discovery call. 

If you are an employee and you would like to know how to initiate a career conversation with your manager but aren’t quite sure how to prepare for the discussion, stay tuned! I’ll be providing a similar guide designed with the employee in mind.

Do you have any other helpful tips to share?  Please comment below.

Thanks for reading!
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Danielle Cullivan

Career Insight Studio

Danielle Cullivan is a seasoned leader in tech with over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. She is also the creator of Career Insight Studio, a career and lifestyle blog dedicated to providing insights and new perspectives for working women. Danielle lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and high-school-aged son, and visits her college-age daughter as often as possible! 

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