What is going to be different about 2020?
Are you new to having career conversations with staff or experienced and wanting to refresh your approach?

The longer summer days and varying pace of life over the festive season are ideal for gaining perspective on your own career, as well as your manager role and how best to support the career journey of your staff.  

Speaking from 20 years of management experience, the demands of manager roles are wide ranging, the tasks can seem endless, and there are times when balancing the needs of the organisation with those of the employee can feel near impossible.

The good news is that there are myriad excellent development options for managers at all levels, including the essential skill of coaching. But the less favourable news is that for many managers the pressure is on coaching for performance of essential tasks in the shorter term rather than on coaching for the long-term goals and needs of the employee and organisation.

It was with this in mind that The Career Development Company has developed a programme to help equip managers with the skills and knowledge needed to have effective career conversations in the workplace. There is strong evidence that these conversations are one of the most important factors in building, motivating and developing highly skilled and committed employees. For example, in the 2015  Right Management Global Career Conversation Study , 4,402 respondents from 15 countries including New Zealand, responded to the question ‘If career conversations were more regular?’ with:

  • I would be more engaged with the work that I do – 82%
  • I would be more likely to share my ideas – 78%
  • I would be more likely to look for opportunities for career growth at my current employer -76%
  • I would be more likely to stay with my current employer – 75%
Tips for leading effective career conversations

I recently ran workshops with divisional groups of managers in a large government organisation where the following tips were applied. Although the value of career conversations was already accepted at this organisation, the challenge is to continue to improve the systems that support career conversations and to learn a simple framework for consistent practice.

Tip 1: Reflect on existing practices

Take some time to reflect on the processes that support career conversations in your organisation, and to reflect on your own recent career conversations. What is working well? What are the areas for improvement? What and who might help you make these improvements?

Tip 2: Have a structure for your conversations

You may already have a structure you use. Here’s a snapshot of The Career Development Company framework to compare or consider using:

  • Prepare well then start well – find a time that works for both of you, set expectations about both coming well prepared. Start in a welcoming way, outline the process and agree on the focus of the meeting.
  • Reflect on who they are – support each person to manage and develop their own career by asking questions that help them to reflect on who they are to better understand themselves.
  • Explore possibilities – help them examine ideas about possible future directions within the organisation, and outside the organisation if internal opportunities are limited.
  • Create strategies and implement action – discuss how they might develop their skills and capabilities, and encourage them to set career goals and develop an action plan. Provide ongoing support with implementing their plan. You may agree to offer specialist support such as external career coaching.
Tip 3: Update your own development plan

Effective career conversations contribute to improved staff engagement and retention. If you have identified learning needs from reading this Blog, you may like to add these to your development plan as a manager.

Contact The CDC (connect@thecdc.nz) to discuss how we can assist you and your organisation to thrive.


Julie Thomas is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

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