Medium 9781609949082

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

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The Enhanced Edition includes eight training videos by the co-authors Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni and one animation (total of 27 minutes). The opening video introduces the co-authors and big idea of the book. The closing animation helps readers spread the word digitally about helping people grow. The seven training videos embedded in the chapters provides additional learning concepts and methods such as: Goodbye Career Ladders, Learning Beyond the Classroom, Six Proven Strategies, and Tips for Tipping the Conversation.

Study after study confirms that career development is the single most powerful tool managers have for driving retention, engagement, productivity, and results. Nevertheless, it's frequently back-burnered. When asked why, managers say the number one reason is that they just don't have time—for the meetings, the forms, the administrative hoops.

But there's a better way. And it's surprisingly simple: frequent short conversations with employees about their career goals and options integrated seamlessly into the normal course of business. Kaye and Giulioni identify three broad types of conversations that have the power to motivate employees more deeply than any well-intentioned development event or process. These conversations will increase employees' awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, and interests; point out where their organization and their industry are headed; and help them pull all of that together to design their own up-to-the-minute, personalized career paths.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go is filled with practical tips, guidelines, and templates, as well as nearly a hundred suggested conversation questions. Illuminated with the perspectives of real managers and employees, this book proves that careers are best developed one conversation at a time.

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1. Develop Me or I’m History

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Spending 40-60-80 hours somewhere each week … I want it to mean something. I want to feel like I’m moving forward somehow. If I can’t grow here, I’ve gotta look elsewhere.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

The decision to assume a management role in today’s workplace comes with a front-row seat to some of the greatest business challenges of our time. Day in and day out, you must

Do more with less. It’s become cliché, but it permeates life at work. You’ve likely become a master at finding ways to reduce costs, time, and other resources below levels you never imagined were possible.

Meet ever-expanding expectations. Every quarter, you’re asked to do a little (or a lot) more. Bigger sales. Greater numbers of service interactions. More projects. Higher scores.

Continuously improve quality. Good enough isn’t. Given the competition in today’s global market, perfection is the standard—until it’s met and you have to do even better.

Deliver the next big thing. Most organizations believe that if they’re not moving forward, they’re sliding back. Innovation gets its picture on business magazine covers because it represents the promise of greater success.

 

2. Can We Talk?

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I am realistic. I know your time is tight and that you’ve got lots of other priorities. My career probably isn’t at the top of your list. Don’t worry … I’ve gotten the message that I own my career. I just need a “thinking partner” who’ll help me step back every once in a while and focus on my development.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

If you’re like most managers, you care. You’ve become accustomed to taking on more and more, expanding your job description with countless “other duties as assigned”—and even some that aren’t. Developing the careers of the people who report to you is on a growing (read: crushing) list of to-dos.

What if you could reimagine your role around helping others grow? What if you reframed this task (which, let’s face it, gets put on the back burner most of the time anyway) in such a way that responsibility rests squarely with the employee? What if your role was more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action rather than actually doing all the work?

 

3. Let Hindsight Light the Way

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My interview for this job was so great. The manager was really interested in learning about my background and how I’d applied myself in the past. He asked great, probing questions that really challenged me to think. I sure wish he would “interview” me like that again now that I’ve got the job.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

 

Imagine if the job interview was the beginning of an ongoing conversational thread throughout someone’s career. Imagine uncovering layer upon layer of your employees’ skills, abilities, interests, and more—right up to the day they retire. Imagine what you could do with that information. Imagine what employees could do with it.

You can enable career-advancing self-awareness by helping employees take stock of where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and who they are. Looking backward thoughtfully is what hindsight conversations are all about. They surface what people need to know and understand about themselves to approach future career steps in a productive and satisfying way.

 

4. Feed Me

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Where do I stand? How am I seen? What do you think? I don’t mean to sound needy … but a little bit of information could go a long way with me.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

Feedback. How appropriate that the word begins with feed. Because for many employees, information from others about how they’re perceived and how they’re doing is currently a severe source of malnourishment in today’s workplace.

Yet in study after study, employees in every sector are starving for feedback. And, it’s a pretty human response. We spend 40+ hours each week at work, dedicating our bodies, minds, and souls to the cause. A little attention is not too much to ask.

Managers, beware. A low-feedback diet may be harmful to the health of your business. Side effects include

Disengagement Stunted growth
Lack of clarity Lost opportunities
Loss of talent

Good people move on—either psychologically or physically—when their hunger for feedback isn’t satisfied. And this loss of talent is completely unnecessary because feedback

Doesn’t cost anything except a little genuine attention to others

 

5. What’s Happening?

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You don’t have to tell me that the business landscape is changing. I know. I live it. But there’s got to be a better way than always scrambling and reacting. I don’t want to just keep up … I want to get ahead of the curve.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

We are not going to tell you the world is changing. You could write that book. The changes and challenges you face every day frame your decisions about strategy, resource allocation, and other critical business matters.

Shouldn’t they frame career decisions as well? (Answer: A resounding yes.)

Hindsight conversations provide a solid grounding in who employees really are and what they bring to the party. But pursuing career growth with this clarity alone is a very dangerous thing. It can send people in directions that are interesting and may play to their strengths—but they might not serve a business need. (Read: dead ends.)

Hindsight clarity needs to be filtered through the lens of foresight. Foresight conversations open people’s minds to the broader world, the future, organizational issues, changes, and the implications of all of these. Foresight helps others focus their career efforts in ways that will lead to satisfying and productive outcomes. (It also delivers the benefit of context and perspective that enhances day-to-day work. Another twofer.)

 

6. If Not Up…Then What?

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Challenge me. Stretch me. I’m not as worried about being promoted as I am about learning, growing, and seeing my talents used in new and different ways.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

Insight and growth are all about possibilities. But the problem is that managers and employees alike frequently have an outdated view of what those possibilities are. Growth in today’s business environment means bidding adieu to some old thinking.

Say good-bye to the career ladder. The organizational belt-tightening and delayering that have occurred over the past several years have left far fewer leadership positions. The upper layers of the pyramid (which have always been slimmer) have become a mere sliver.

Say good-bye to limiting career paths. The predictable progression from one established position to the next has given way to career patterns. These are more fluid, flexible, and responsive to the needs of the business and the individual.

Say good-bye to checking your personal life at the door. We’ve moved beyond work/life balance to work/life integration. The convergence of technology and communication has blurred the lines for many between work and home.

 

7. Same Seat, New View

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My friend worked for the same boss in the same department for nearly seven years. Sounds mind numbing, right? For him, it was anything but. His manager encouraged him to keep changing it up … helped him develop and really use his talents in all sorts of new ways. He grew way more than I did … even changing jobs every couple of years. That’s the kind of manager I want.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

Be honest. All that talk of insight, possibilities, recalibration, and upward and lateral moves in the last chapter made you a little nervous, didn’t it? As much as you’d like to help your employees transition into new roles that will support their growth goals, it’s not always possible.

And that’s why too many managers avoid career discussions altogether. You don’t want to set unrealistic expectations only to disappoint when desirable moves are few and far between.

Hindsight and foresight overlap to reveal insights into a whole world of development possibilities that exist for employees. Some involve moves, but (and here’s the best-kept secret that will liberate development-minded managers everywhere) the vast majority do not.

 

8. Advancing Action

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We go through the exercise every year. Spend a bunch of time figuring out what I need to develop my career. Time’s typically up just about when we get around to how to make it happen. I honestly think this does more harm than good. It’s like a tease that gives me a hint of what’s possible then slams the door on it—until next year when we do it all over again.

—an employee (perhaps yours)

Now to HOW. Remember the caution in the last chapter? Don’t start working on how to make development priorities happen until after you’ve clearly identified what they are. Well, here is a second—and equally important—caution on the subject: don’t forget to address the HOW altogether.

The work you do with employees around hindsight and foresight helps to generate insight into the world of possibilities that exist for those who want to move forward and toward their career goals. Identifying those possibilities is exciting and energizing. But those possibilities remain amorphous and abstract until they translate to action.

 

9. Grow with the Flow

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For me, it doesn’t have to be a big sit-down meeting. In fact, I’d rather it wasn’t. Doesn’t it seem odd that something as important and personal as someone’s career is put on an annual schedule … sort of like a termite inspection?

—an employee (perhaps yours)

Want real results? Take career development off the calendar and bring it into real everyday life.

Don’t get us wrong. Organizations need individual development planning (IDP) schedules and processes to ensure that career conversations happen. For some employees, it’s the only way a development dialogue might ever occur. (Our research indicates that even with those processes in place, nearly 20 percent of those polled still don’t get the “annual inspection.”)

So, we’re all for the regular, planned career conversations—but alone, they just don’t cut it.

What’s needed is a more contemporary, organic, and effective way to supplement the scheduled with the spontaneous—to build development into the eternally evolving fabric of the workplace.

 

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