Bold Conversations on Career Development

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Employees want to talk about their career and they don’t necessarily need a lengthy summit to do so. Time-starved managers and employees need and want a different formula for success. But how can busy employees and managers do less yet gain more? It begins with bold, not tired, conversations on career development.

Critical career conversations between employees and their leaders on what it takes to ‘grow and develop’ are many times a ‘check the box’ activity. The Individual Development Plan (IDP) and Performance Management (PM) aspect of a leader’s role is becoming dated and some suggest ‘tired’. Why? These conversations have often evolved into a routine, one-sided process where everyone is focused on simply getting it done. What’s left out of the equation is how to tailor these critical career conversations to the individual’s specific needs coupled with a spirit of trust.

Successful conversations, no matter the type require trust. Talent-focused leaders build trust by supporting growth and development, creating positive work environments, and fostering strong quality relationships through incredible listening and thoughtful questions.

Here are five thoughtful questions to get the conversation going:

  1. Modesty aside, what is your greatest strength?
  2. When you leave the room, what are two things you colleagues say about you?
  3. What is a trend in your job that will have an impact on your career in the next 12-18 months?
  4. If you could eliminate 20% of your job that you don’t like and replace it with 20% of what you do like, what would you do?
  5. If you were able to pick up one new skill or competency, what would it be?


And, don’t think these conversations have to take a lot of time. Would you rather sit down with an employee and map out a plan for the next year or instead have a dozen 10-minute conversations throughout the year? Make conversations about development, growth and careers a part of your daily dialogue. Ask an employee what they learned after completing a project – don’t wait until the annual review when the learning may be lost. Doing so shows your invested and these bold conversations build a stronger, more trusting relationship over time.

Career development is not a series of meetings, it’s a series of experiences.  Broaden the experience, build the relationships and have a conversation today!


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