TalentTalk Radio - A Conversation with Beverly Kaye

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TalentTalk Radio, hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2, features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Recently, Chris had a conversation with Beverly Kaye, Founder of Career Systems International. A synopsis of this conversation is provided below . To hear the entire show, click here.


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Beverly Kaye has been in the HR space for nearly three and a half decades and it still continues to hold her passion and interest. Her journey in HR started when she went to UCLA in the 70’s to pursue her doctorate in change management. She became interested in careers and the subject of her doctoral thesis was mobility. Once she graduated she authored her first book, “Up Is Not the Only Way.” Currently her organization, Career Systems International, employs 40 people and the company works globally on three issues – engagement, retention and career development.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

Kaye’s has written several books and one of her popular ones is “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.” The book highlights to managers everywhere at any level that their people want to grow and be challenged. They want to be noticed. If they don’t get that, they’ll either physically leave or psychologically check out. The latter is worse because they’ll stay with the organization but lack in any discretionary effort. The book is a summary of Kaye’s work of 30 years broken down into simple ideas.

Employee Point of View

According to Kaye, these are five areas that employees are really interested in:

– They want to know all their skills will be used. Not just the skills they were hired for but they want their managers to get to know them so that all of their abilities and competencies will be used.

– They want ongoing feedback. They want this feedback in short conversations and not necessarily in a once-a-year performance appraisal.

– They want to know what new directions the organization is going and what that means to them. It’s all about the change, inside the organization as well as outside, and how it affects their careers.

– They want to know their options in terms of the different career opportunities available to them. Most employees know that not everybody gets to climb the ladder but they want to know about the other ways to grow and learn.

– Lastly, they want to know if the organization will help their employability.

Kaye’s firm helps managers answer these questions and engage better with their teams. It’s not the length of the conversation that matters. Often short conversations embedded in everyday work are good enough, says Kaye. She asks managers to look out for clues and cues that help them get to know their people better.

Hindsight, Foresight and Insight

According to Kaye, the concept of hindsight, foresight and insight makes up the framework for career conversations. It is a simple way of thinking about one’s career. At the hindsight step, one needs to think about their abilities and skills and what they bring to the table. It’s also about finding out how other people see you and what your personal brand is within the organization. It’s about self-awareness and checking out that self-awareness with others. This is a critical first step in the career conversation. The foresight step says that you have to look out and see what’s changing in your industry, profession, economy and how will that affect you. Now that you have all the information you need, the insight step asks you to explore your options and goals and figure out how to move ahead. “It’s a simple model to help managers remember that those are three conversations that are crucial part of career conversations. The career conversation doesn’t start with what’s my next job. It starts with what’s my passion and what’s my skillset,” explains Kaye.

Stay Interviews

Kaye strongly believes that managers ask employees to stay when they’re conducting the exit interview. Instead of waiting until the end, Kaye suggests having stay interviews to make sure employees are happy and are taken care of. According to her, stay interviews should be conducted at the end of the onboarding process where a newly hired employee is asked what they feel is the most daunting and discomforting part of their job and what is the most exciting part of their job based on what they learned during the orientation. “At the end of the onboarding process, you must start re-recruiting,” she emphasizes. “These questions keep you aware of the job satisfaction levels and whether or not they’re getting what they need because their motivation is very important to any manager who is running his department or function effectively.”

What Are You Reading?

Beverly Kaye is currently reading “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle. The book is about how bad we’re getting at conversations and how our devices are getting in the way. Another book she’s reading is “Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them” by Bryan E. Robinson. The book is about workaholism and how it affects lives.

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