Upskilling leaders in career conversations

Why is upskilling leaders in career conversations so essential?

In today’s professional landscape, the need for continuous learning and development is more critical than ever.  With the explosion of AI, ongoing technological advancement and rapidly changing economic and political landscapes it’s essential individuals and organisations continually re-assess skillsets and career paths in order to stay competitive and relevant.

Additionally, modern day employees have a higher than ever expectations that their employers provide career development support.  Research by Gallup, McKinsey and Culture Amp indicates:

  • 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job (Gallup)
  • Lack of career development and advancement is the number one reason people leave traditional jobs (McKinsey)
  • 49% of people cite growth or career change opportunities as their reason for leaving their employer (Culture Amp)

It’s critically important therefore, that these conversations occur in the workplace.

So what are career conversations?

Career conversations involve discussing career satisfaction, aspirations and pressing career questions, exploring potential development opportunities and supporting ongoing career development in it’s broadest form.  It’s important to note at this point that career development is so much more than vertical progression; it may involve stepping back or shifting laterally and career development activities can span:

  1. Skill-building through training and education.
  2. Taking on new responsibilities or projects.
  3. Participating in mentoring or coaching programs.
  4. Networking and building professional relationships.
  5. Seeking feedback and performance evaluations.
  6. Exploring different roles or departments within an organization.
  7. Pursuing certifications or advanced degrees.
  8. Developing a personal brand and industry presence.
  9. Engaging in self-reflection and goal setting.
  10. Balancing work-life commitments for overall well-being.

Are career conversations worth the time and effort?

The benefits of ongoing career conversations are clear.  Research by Right Management suggests that if career conversations were more regular:

  • 82% of employees would be more engaged in their work
  • 78% of employees would be more likely to share their ideas
  • 76% of employees would be more likely to look for career growth opportunities with their current employer
  • 75% of employees would be more likely to stay with their current employer

How well placed are leaders?

The unfortunate reality is that many leaders don’t understand the difference between career conversations and performance conversations and/or lack the confidence and skills to facilitate career conversations effectively.  Consequently, they either shy away from these conversations or manage them poorly, resulting in mutual frustration, disappointment and an erosion of trust between staff member and leader/organisation.

The gap in understanding and skill not only hampers career development but also undermines the trust and effectiveness of leadership and negatively impacts engagement and retention, highlighting the importance of upskilling leaders in facilitating meaningful career conversations.

Educating leaders so they understand the role they play in career conversations and training them in appropriate communication and coaching techniques means they can more effectively support employees to take ownership and purposefully navigate their career paths.  Building the capability of leaders to ask thoughtful questions, listen without judgement or bias, offer valuable insights and apply coach-like skills, means employees will feel supported and valued.

It’s a no-brainer.  The evolving professional landscape demands a proactive approach to career development.  Are your leaders armed with the skills and knowledge they need to engage in effective career conversations that drive employee engagement and retention?