How To Have Career Development Conversations

Every employee has aspirations for the future that impact their career decisions and long-term goals. Having a better understanding of your team’s desires will lead to meaningful interactions that can impact their loyalty to the organization and enthusiasm for their position.

This article is designed to teach you the importance of career development conversations and how to properly start these discussions with your employees.

A manager shows how to have career development conversations by meeting with his team.

Why are career development conversations important?

Companies that have an accurate understanding of employee motivations can create workplace experiences catering to the interests of their team. Actively showing support for your staff members will result in stronger relationships with employees, leading to benefits such as increased workplace satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and better morale. Opening up a dialogue about your team’s career-related interests may also inspire them to pursue training that greatly improves their current skills.

How To Speak To Your Employees About Career Development

Starting conversations on career development can be difficult for companies and managers who are new to the concept. Thankfully, there are several ways an employer can approach the discussion and hold meaningful meetings that clearly define the employee’s occupational aspirations.

As a team

While the subject of career development is something unique and personal to each team member in an organization, employers can still benefit from discussing the concept in group situations. Companies can keep their professionals well informed about their current career development opportunities by updating staff via monthly or weekly department meetings.

Normalizing the discussion of improving career-related skills in the workplace, along with staying transparent about how the business approaches the topic, will encourage more employees to utilize the resources offered by the organization. Group seminars focusing on why career development is important to employees and educating them on the importance of attending individual meetings can be implemented to achieve this.

As individuals

Arranging private meetings with individuals will enable leaders to have in-depth conversations about the personal motivations of their employees. You have an opportunity to tailor each question towards the person you’re meeting with, allowing for detailed answers that can be applied to future discussions. Organizations can use the conversations to clearly define the employee’s career expectations and set realistic goals for reaching those aspirations.

Unlike group environments, solo sessions let employers adjust their approach to accommodate the personality of the employee. A person who understands the career trajectory they wish to follow will not require the same conversation as someone who feels unsure of how to proceed in their occupation. Employers should also be wary of how their staff handle feedback so they can avoid accidentally discouraging those employees who may be more sensitive to criticism.

Keep track of their changing goals and ambitions

The motivations of your employees can be influenced by factors both inside and outside of the workplace, from personal circumstances such as family life stresses to work-related pressures. A professional’s personal situation can potentially change, resulting in unprecedented shifts in their ambitions. Keeping a record of their changing goals will help employers understand what aspects of a career currently mean the most to the employee.

An accurate depiction of the team member’s recent motivations will allow organizations to have helpful conversations with them on what skills are needed to follow their new ambitions and how they can achieve them at your company. Failing to keep track of an employee’s current goals may lead to giving inappropriate advice that negatively impacts their workplace enthusiasm and trust in the company. Staff who lose their motivation can also suffer from reduced productivity.

Avoid broad questions

A successful career development conversation should help organizations gain a better understanding of their team. However, certain questions can be counterproductive to the discussion and leave employees feeling confused and unconfident about their career-related objectives or their future with your organization. Asking broad questions during private sessions will not give you the detailed information required for forming beneficial goals for the employee.

For example, companies might ask someone where they see themselves in five years’ time. As mentioned before, the ambitions a person has can quickly change due to unforeseen circumstances, which makes the question an unreliable gauge of the employee’s desires. Your team will be more engaged when confronted with questions related to specific present-day responsibilities.

Let the employee take the lead

The primary goal behind having conversations with employees is to promote their professional growth while helping them achieve their ideal careers. A discussion led by the employer will not reveal the true motivations of their staff, so it’s crucial that the employee plays a prominent role in every meeting related to their career development. Allowing the individual to express themselves during the discussion can give businesses an accurate depiction of their team’s desires.

All questions asked during the conversation should be geared towards the interests of the employee. Instead of suggesting career paths for your team, ask them to list the qualities of their ideal occupation and what responsibilities they feel comfortable adding to their current workplace duties. Companies may even include questions about which skills the employee wishes to utilize in their desired position.

Have these conversations regularly

Taking the time to conduct ongoing discussions with your team members on their career goals will help you monitor their progress towards completing each objective. During each session, employers can ask about what the employee has been doing to reach their aspirations. For instance, if the individual would like to develop their management abilities, you can see what seminars they have attended, or would be interested in attending, in order to advance their skills.

Holding regular career development conversations also prevents your team from losing sight of those objectives, keeping them motivated in the workplace. Every session serves as a reminder of their dreams and forces the employee to consistently think about where they wish to be in their careers and how they can get there.

Career development conversations are important for any business interested in assisting their staff with achieving their aspirations. Meeting with your employees can help them clearly define the necessary goals for reaching their ideal job and growing as a professional. All organizations should consider holding career-related discussions with their teams to increase workplace enthusiasm and form closer connections with their employees.

Learn how INTOO’s Career Development coaching solution can  help you support employee engagement.