Study after study confirms that career development is the single most powerful tool managers have for driving retention, engagement, productivity, and results. Nevertheless, its frequently back-burnered. When asked why, managers say the number one reason is that they just dont have timefor the meetings, the forms, the administrative hoops. But theres a better way.
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Beverly Kaye's groundbreaking programs have been implemented by such leading corporations as American Express, AT&T, Compaq, and Xerox. The scores of products she has designed are produced by her Scranton, PA–based organization, Career Systems International.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
WHAT’S A MANAGER TO DO?
Developing employees. Helping them grow. It’s like eating properly or exercising.
You know it’s good. You know you should. Yet, if you’re like many managers today, you just don’t do it as well or as frequently as you would like.
In survey after survey, year after year, employees express their dissatisfaction with how they are being supported in their careers. At the same time, managers across industries, regions, and levels uniformly report a moderate to severe lack of competence, comfort, and confidence in themselves in regards to this critical job expectation.
What IF …
you could more easily and frequently engage in the career development work that employees crave without sacrificing everything else that must get done?
employees learned to assume greater responsibility for their careers?
it was possible for career development to be integrated into the work that needs to get done as opposed to being a separate series of overwhelming tasks that have to be checked off a list?
You could. They can. And it can be. That’s why we’ve written this book.
HELP THEM GROW
Career development is as important as it’s ever been (maybe more). In today’s business environment, talent is the major differentiator. And developing that talent is one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement, which in turn is the key to the business outcomes you seek: revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality, and cycle time reduction.
But the reality of career development is changing in response to the new business landscape. It’s not the wide-open playing field it once was. Boomers are waiting longer to retire. Repeated rounds of belt tightening have led to delayering and downsizing. More jobs are outsourced. All of this breeds a sense of scarcity and leaves the impression that there aren’t as many opportunities as there once were. This makes career development more—not less—important than in the past.
OR WATCH THEM GO
Ignore the development imperative at your own peril. Every day, employees who believe that their careers are not getting the attention they deserve make the decision to leave. Some resign to pursue employment in organizations that offer greater opportunity. Others decide the freelance life fits them better, and they cobble together a variety of projects that become a career.
But an equally dangerous situation occurs when employees stay but withdraw their engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for the work.
CAREER CONVERSATIONS EMPLOYEES WANT
So, what’s a manager to do? Plenty. And it might be easier than you expect. Quality career development boils down to quality conversations.
Throughout this book, we’ll challenge you to reframe career development in such a way that responsibility rests squarely with the employee, and that your role is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action. This role centers around talking about—rather than actually doing the heavy lifting of—development.
We’ll offer a framework for thinking about conversations that help others grow. It involves three distinct types of conversations: hindsight, foresight, and insight.
Hindsight conversations are those that help others look backward and inward to determine who they are, where they’ve been, what they love, and where they excel. Chapters 3 and 4 provide you with questions and ideas for helping others look back as a basis for moving forward.
Foresight conversations are designed to keep employees looking forward and outward toward changes, trends, and the ever-evolving big picture. Chapter 5 offers easy, straightforward tools that are long on value and short on your time investment.
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 focus on leveraging the insights that surface from the convergence of hindsight and foresight. How do the employees’ strengths fit into where the organization or industry is going? Where are there opportunities to carve out space to grow and perform? Out of the work that needs to be done, which activities will give people unique experiences and fodder for development?
In Chapter 9, you’ll learn how to grow with the flow or embed development into everyday life through heightened awareness and fluid conversation strategies.
HOW TO READ THIS BOOK
You’re probably doing a pretty good job so far. Here are just a few thoughts to get the most from the experience.
This book was written for anyone who has a role in developing others. The titles vary from organization to organization: Supervisor, Manager, Director, Team Leader, Vice President, CEO. We’ve chosen to use the term manager generically. Whenever you see it, it means you.
This book is all about the career conversations employees want. So we’ll draw heavily upon employees’ voices. These are real individuals in the workplace whose eloquent insights make the point far better than we could. They aren’t the entitled whiners with unrealistic expectations. They’re your solid citizens. The ones you count on to produce. The ones you’re hoping will stick around.
You’ll find lots of questions and activities you can use with your employees. We’ll call them out like this. Have an upcoming career conversation? Scan the pages for an exercise, tuck the book under your arm, and you’re ready to go.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
So, you’re somebody’s employee too, right? And, if you’re like many managers, you get caught in the middle, doing the right thing for your employees, but not necessarily having it done for you. As you read this book, you may find yourself thinking, this sounds pretty good, but what about me? Answer: do it yourself!
The tools and questions throughout this book are highly flexible. Change you to i and you’re ready for some self-discovery. You might find it helpful to review the answers with someone at work or at home. A fresh set of eyes may pick up clues and offer a different perspective and new insights.
We’ll close each chapter with some what ifs. We know that as a manager responsible for delivering business results, you must keep your feet planted firmly on the ground. So, from that grounded position, take a moment to consider what just might be possible.
What IF …
you kept reading and tried out even one or two ideas with your employees?
They would grow.
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