Best Practices: Help them Grow or Watch them Go
In survey after survey, year after year, employees express their dissatisfaction with how they are being supported in their careers. At the same time, managers across industries, regions, and levels uniformly report a moderate to severe lack of competence, comfort, and confidence in themselves in regards to this critical job expectation.
Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go is a tremendously timely new book that just might launch a “coaching culture” revolution in organizations desperate to attract and retain talent, and remain competitive.
Career development is as important as it’s ever been (maybe more). In today’s business environment, talent is the major differentiator. And developing that talent is one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement, which in turn is the key to the business outcomes you seek: revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality, and cycle time reduction.
But the reality of career development is changing in response to the new business landscape. It’s not the wide-open playing field it once was. Boomers are waiting longer to retire. Repeated rounds of belt tightening have led to delayering and downsizing. More jobs are outsourced. All of this breeds a sense of scarcity and leaves the impression that there aren’t as many opportunities as there once were. This makes career development more—not less—important than in the past.
This sharp, practical guide is for anyone who has (or aspires to have) a role in developing others—managers, supervisors, directors, team leaders, etc.
Authors Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni are an impressively credentialed team who’ve written a roadmap for coaching and developing people. Kaye, CEO of Career Systems International, specializes in engagement, retention and development, and Giulioni, cofounder and principal of DesignArounds, a consulting and instructional design firm, focuses on leadership, sales and customer service.
Answering today’s workplace directives to “do more with less…meet ever-expanding expectations…continuously improve quality…and deliver the next big thing,” Kaye and Giulioni have penned a witty, breezy read that is, at its core, an internal coaching guidebook containing simple and immediately useful tools and strategies.
The central question the authors answer is “if career development is a tool that can deliver productivity gains, expense reduction, quality improvements, innovation, and bottom-line results, why isn’t everyone using it?”
Over the years, managers—by sharing oral history and spinning lore—have created and continue to propagate several myths. And these myths (read: reasons or excuses) keep them from having the very career conversations their employees want.
The five “Immobilizing Myths”—
- There simply isn’t enough time.
- If I don’t talk about it, they may not think about it, and the status quo will be safe.
- Since employees need to own their careers, it’s not my job.
- Everyone wants more, bigger, or better: promotions, raises, prestige, power.
- Development efforts are best concentrated on high potentials, many of whom already have plans in place.
In my experience as a coach, I can attest that all five myths are alive and thriving, but clients most often find their way to me to through myth #5.
Clients want desperately to craft a plan for advancement, and to find a way to collaborate with their managers. The work often includes helping clients find ways to communicate the advantages of career development as benefits to their manager’s own career path, as well as the company’s bottom line.
According to Kaye and Giulioni, key in these conversations is the reality that supporting an employee’s career development doesn’t necessarily mean losing them to another department or company.
Growth isn’t limited to movements over, up, or down. With the right support, people can grow right where they’re planted.
Lot’s of Little Conversations
The takeaway from Help Them Grow is that employee development should not be bundled into one long, annual nerve-wracking meeting in which the employee learns what their failings are and makes plans and promises to shore up their deficiencies.
Instead, they propose shorter, more frequent, intention-focused “10-minute conversations,” and provide a superb collection of coaching practices and development strategies to facilitate them.
The secret to great coaching is that when it’s done well, the client or employee does the heavy lifting, not the manager. By practicing the skills of listening, curiosity, brainstorming and asking open-ended questions, managers can source the employee’s vision and values, ideas and strategies, as well as gaps and future accountabilities.
(A pause here for micromanagers: read and memorize this book. Get it in your bones and you and your workplace will relax and flourish.)
The Best Workplace Culture is a Coaching Culture
Help Them Grow is powerful stuff. Using the core practices outlined in the book, it’s possible to start small, with just a team, and test and measure the results.
It’s also possible, and exciting to envision how implementing these low-cost, low-time practices company-wide could lead to a true coaching and learning culture that fosters career ownership, true engagement and productivity, and of course, profits.
Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go will be released September 17. Get your advance copy on Amazon here.