The importance of career conversations during the uncertainty of Brexit

Which way to go road sign

Brexit. There is no getting away from it. As the UK sits in a state of limbo awaiting an outcome, be that ‘no deal’, ‘deal’, another referendum or scrap the whole thing completely and remain, one thing is certain, the longer it takes to resolve the situation, the bigger the impact on the economy – both in our country and beyond.

When investments and people collide

Regardless of where you stand on the question itself, it’s clear that implications for organisations are manifold. Two key areas that are often quoted as being directly influenced by the lack of progress towards Brexit include investments and people.  When these two areas collide we may see that it is the people within the organisation who are missing the investment in their development that may allow them to thrive.

And people need this investment in their personal development during times of change and uncertainty more than ever before. Managers and leaders at all levels will be facing ambiguous situations where answers are hard to come by; indeed how can teams be motivated and future-focussed when the direction of the company may be uncertain and will be shaped by forces outside of their control?

Discussing personal career paths

Helping leaders understand, and then respond, to these fears and frustrations that some in their teams may be experiencing will allow them some element of control in respect of their teams’ performances. It is very easy for people to become either disengaged from the aims and objectives of the organisation, or to focus, in some cases obsessively, on matters over which they can have no influence. Equally, thoughts turn to personal career paths and the question ‘what does this mean for me?’ arises with regularity. Unless this thinking is addressed directly, people may draw the wrong conclusions leading to further problems for the employer as key staff head for the perceived safety provided by other places of work.

Coaching and career conversations

Leaders therefore need to spend time with their teams, helping them clearly understand what is required and how to make that happen, providing calm reassurance and support where needed. Effective coaching can help frame areas where individuals may be struggling and can allow a leader or manager an opportunity to delve deeply into the root cause of the issues – often not at all based upon the immediate issues. Coaching is often used (correctly) to address very specific issues that people may be looking to examine however a less-well recognised application is to provide ad hoc coaching on an ‘on demand’ basis – ensuring that individuals have access to a passionate, highly motivated coach as and when required. Ensuring that all line managers are comfortable having positive dialogue around career opportunities is also important – so many are not – as people often leave businesses citing that ‘lack of career development’ was a key decision making criteria for them, it’s an absolute necessity as opposed to a nice to have.

It’s time to prioritise the career conversation

In times fraught with the challenges that Brexit – and similar events such as organisational change, mergers or acquisitions – place upon employees, supporting the workforce is pivotal to future success. Nature abhors a vacuum and, to adapt a phrase, if your leaders aren’t talking to your people and providing them with appropriate coaching and career guidance – you can be sure that your competitors will be, resulting in a slow drain of your best talent away from your organisation.

Whilst the solution to Brexit may be out of your hands, how you lead, motivate and engage your people isn’t.