A proven, exciting Retirement planning process for individuals and couples, The Best-Half is a combination of workshops, coaching and personal reflection. It was developed by experienced coaches and educators. For organizations, The Best-Half is a process to be used in succession management especially for transitions and to establish common goals and objectives in the senior phases of a career.

Monday, November 07, 2011

I just didn’t see that coming….

Are you managing by really understanding the career goals and aspirations of your people or is it more like making your way to the fridge in the middle of the night with all the lights off? You think you have a really good idea where everything is and what to watch out for and then you step on the dog’s squeaky flying squirrel and …disaster!

We tend to think we have a good handle on where our people are going and what we expect will happen and then out of the blue you loose your best sales person or researcher or proposal writer or marketer. New research conducted by Right Management Inc. of 700 North American workers says that more than a third - 37 percent never engage in discussions about their career with their managers. Another 30% have the chat only once a year. In speaking to a CEO recently he stated that he thought “we talk to our people all the time about their careers, their performance and their goals.” Interestingly when asked, many employees had difficulty remembering these discussions ever taking place.

I think that both parties are right and both wrong. A casual conversation initiated by the boss may be mistaken for casual conversation by the employee and something much more concrete by the manager. On the other hand a casual reference by the manager may be taken as “gospel” by the employee causing a rapid increase in heart rate and salary expectations.

Getting a career discussion right is fundamentally important to both employer and employee. However a lot of companies seem to be leaving it up to chance. Part of the new Careerology™ program for organizations, is both a Manager’s Guide and an Employee’s Guide to having a career discussion. Both of these Guides have been designed to walk parties through the Careerology™ Process. 

A UK study entitled Career Discussions at Work, (CIPD Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ©2005) showed that HR professionals want to improve career development for all employees but:
         Only one third felt that senior managers were firmly committed to career management activities
         Only five percent trained all their line managers to support the career development of the staff
         There was a broad desire to support career development for all staff but in practice most efforts were concentrated into relatively small groups of very senior or high potential managers.

Reasons for a lack of preparedness by managers included managers not having the skills and resources to conduct career development dialogue including answering difficult questions or delivering difficult news regarding an employee’s career aspirations if it was felt the employee was unrealistic about their own career aspirations.

Effective behaviours demonstrated by the manager to ensure a successful dialogue include:
         Showing real interest in the person
         Providing insight into the discussion
         Being positive and enthusiastic
         Challenging and asking questions in a positive manner
         Facilitating the discussion not leading it
         Giving honest feedback on the employee’s aspirations and perceived strengths
         Being clear in describing what the organization expects from the employee
         Listening to what the employee expects from the organization
         Sharing information, contacts and opportunities
         Managing the session so that a positive outcome for the employee is maintained.

Surprises are always going to happen in organizations. People do win the lottery and come in the next day and resign (although many decide to stay.) However there is no excuse for managing the career aspirations of your most valuable resource in the dark. Being a strategic leader involves leading consciously and deepening meaningful relationships. In finding our own way to the fridge in a fully awake state or as some call conscious competence, we can help others find their way. Leadership is about showing up to who we want to be and helping others show up to whom they want to be.
The benefits of having a successful career discussion far outweigh the effort required to make sure that this crucial conversation takes place openly and frequently.  

Flying squirrel or not.


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