Practicing What We Preach About Employee Development

Embedding career conversations into your talent management processes can be a key driver in helping individuals and the organization achieve success.

Three professional men discussing the importance of career conversations in a talent management strategy

At Right Management, we often speak with clients about the importance of career development in helping organizations and individuals win in the changing world of work. Right Management UK recently decided to ‘practice what we preach’ by putting all 140 UK employees through one of two new Career Mobility solutions, focused on personal development and employee engagement.
Our research has shown that only 16% of employees have ongoing conversations with their managers about their careers. In a world where talent is the most important competitive differentiator for organizations, it’s vital that employers commit meaningfully to career development. Creating a culture that encourages regular career conversations will help an organization attract and engage the brightest talent, while encouraging all employees to take charge of their careers.
Here is our “aha” moment. In late 2015 we received our annual employee survey results. It was evident that our staff wanted more coaching and development opportunities to enable them to fulfill their career aspirations. The leadership team felt strongly that they needed to take action based on this feedback, and designated 2016 as ‘The Year of Our People.’ We developed two new Career Mobility solutions, ‘Manager as a Career Coach’ and ‘Personal Career Focus’, and decided to pilot them with our staff prior to offering them to clients. As well as investing in our own people, the sessions enabled staff to experience Right Management from the perspective of the candidate. 
All line managers were given the opportunity to take part in ‘Manager as a Career Coach.’ This session equips managers with the skills to have courageous and meaningful career conversations with employees in an atmosphere of support and challenge. Managers are empowered to help their staff make informed career decisions and take a proactive approach to their own career mobility, whilst aligning with the overall strategic vision of the business. 
Secondly, all other staff attended the modular ‘Personal Career Focus’ program which, over the course of three sessions, helped individuals discover their strengths and values, articulate their personal brand, and develop an action plan for ongoing personal and career development.
A shift in behaviors
The program was a resounding success and there was a clear, identified shift in the behaviors of both managers and their direct reports. Managers felt better equipped to have career conversations and individuals felt empowered to explore opportunities and to initiate conversations about their future. Here’s just a sample of the positive reactions:
“I found the process invaluable. I now better understand the values and drivers of my team and am able to better connect with them.  Importantly, knowing where staff are heading has helped me to both service plan and to look at business continuity.” -- Manager
“We hope that this marks the start of a cultural change in how our staff approach their own career development, whether that is to explore opportunities for growth in their current role within our organization, or more widely. This project has shown how committed our staff are to the company and to their own personal careers.” -- Ian Symes, European Operations Director
I encourage you to think about employee engagement within your organization: do your employees have ongoing career conversations with their managers? Are they aware of development opportunities? Do they feel responsible for their own careers? And does this align with the organization’s business objectives and goals? A full two-thirds of individual performance drivers are tied to Career Conversations, making it the most important people process in an organizational culture that embraces career development: to engage and retain your employees, talk to them about their careers.
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