Your leadership philosophy has everything to do with keeping great people on your team. Here's why. “There are two kinds of leaders,” a senior leader recently said at a meeting. “One kind of leader is afraid their people will surpass them and leave, and they snuff out the light -- the ideas and enthusiasm -- that people bring into the organization.” “The second kind of leader is like a candle themselves -- they use their light to light many other candles.” We all want to be the second kind of leader. Someone who inspires and supports the people we work with to do and be their best. And by doing that as a leader, it may absolutely mean that a great team member could leave as their career takes them to a new, exciting level. Yes, losing a team member to another organization is difficult, especially when they’re a top notch performer. As the second kind of leader, one key to keeping great people is engaging in open, supportive career management discussions with team members. Growth is one of the 4 G’s of employee engagement. [The other three are Give, Get, and Glue. Read more about the 4 G’s at this recent blog post.] Actively engaging with employees on career development accomplishes two goals: First, it builds trust and communicates that the team member is a valued part of the organization. Second, it motivates the employee, and the organization, to further develop the relationship in ways that benefit both parties. Other ROI, according to Towers Watson, includes:
“Career paths that fill a robust talent pipeline to meet business demands
Deeper bench of future leaders who have had the requisite experiences to fill key roles in the succession plan
Engaged employees meeting personal career aspirations and making a greater contribution to business results
An enhanced value proposition that attracts and retains top talent
Reduced turnover costs in critical positions and levels
Diminished search firm and training fees”
How To Do It Preparing in advance is key for ensuring the discussion goes smoothly. Andria Corso with Work It Daily recommends considering the following questions prior to meeting with team members: "What do I see as this person’s ultimate potential?" "What do I think the employee needs to do to get there?" "What do I feel are the employee’s key strengths?" "What do I know about this employee’s immediate key developmental needs?" "What do I see as the employee’s next assignment?” It’s also important to be sensitive to the fact that not every employee may feel comfortable fully discussing their career aspirations and goals with a supervisor, notes the Veteran’s Administration corporate university, VA Learning University. The agency offers several tips for supervisors in preparing for meetings with employees, including:
“Explain how your role as a supervisor can help them with career development and planning.
Assure them that discussing their goals candidly will not affect their performance evaluation.
Demonstrate your comfort with their exploration of opportunities outside their current role or team by openly discussing the possibilities.
Be supportive of an employee’s goal to remain in his or her current position by identifying development opportunities and/or restructuring their current responsibilities.”
Plus, here’s advice that the VA suggests to its own managers -- and that you could also tailor to your own organization:
“Refer employees to other VA professionals with whom they may feel more comfortable discussing opportunities and goals candidly.
Encourage all employees to use the resources provided on MyCareer@VA [the VA careers website] and by providing access and time for them to explore the site at work.
Hold an information session or brown bag with your staff to demonstrate the Portal.” (The Portal is the VA’s learning website, where people can access career development resources.)
Finally, have an agenda prepared with questions to discuss with the team member. Share the draft agenda with your team member ahead of time so they can come prepared to have a fruitful dialogue with you. Here are a few examples of great discussion guides to get started with creating one that works for your team and your organization: