As part of a career development initiative, several months ago, Tara McCaw, a Senior Technology Support Manager at The Capital Group participated in our virtual training session on Career Conversations. The session was designed to ignite career development conversations between managers and their employees. Two things in particular resonated with Tara:
1) Careers are developed one conversation at a time – over time.
2) Talk is the most precious and results driven commodity managers have to share.
One of the tools provided in the session was the Career Conversation Habit Builder (questions for every day of the week, for a year). These questions encourage you to think about your current role, your strengths, development, and potential future roles on an regular basis – not just in a monthly 1:1 or at review time or when you’re writing your development plan. The idea is to build on-going career conversation habits with these daily questions and encourage new thoughts and ideas to help you to continue to grow – whether it be in your existing role or in a different one.
Tara has always been a supporter of learning and development and was excited to try out this new tool. Since she’s on the road frequently, utilizing email to send a “career question a day” was the answer to start these ongoing career conversations with her team. This is what she did:
1) Sent out an initial email to her team explaining what she was doing and why. She encouraged her team to think about the question and opened the dialogue to talk about their responses either in a reply or during their 1:1 meetings.
2) Created draft emails (enough for each work day in a month) with a career question from the CSI tool in the subject line.
3) Early each morning she would send one of the draft emails to her team. She wanted this email to be one of the first emails they saw when they got to work.
4) Those who responded directly to her always received a reply back. Sometimes the responses were “Tell me more” and other times they were acknowledgements what was communicated.
5) Tara kept all of the responses in individual folders to be discussed during development meetings.
The result was amazing. Her team began to think about their own careers in new and different ways. It provided self awareness and insight into where they bring additional value. Tara grew from this exercise as well. Her team’s responses challenged her own thinking. She found it was easier to have candid, trusting conversations with her team.
This is an example of how our employees are hungry for something that makes them think about themselves, their wants, their interest, their passions, and builds a more human interface with their managers. It doesn’t have to be hard. It’s as simple as a question.