Honest Career Discussions are Scary for Managers and Employees


Clients come to me because they are thinking of changing careers, are unhappy in their position, or want to grow and develop in their current company. I’m often their first stop for this discussion. In a perfect world, managers everywhere would know how to facilitate career development conversations and employees would be confident that having a real career discussion inside the organization wouldn’t have a negative impact. But we’re not there yet.

Who is responsible?

Is it the manager’s job to give employees all the answers for evolving in their career? No. The heavy lifting has to be done by the employee. But here’s the question:

How do we inspire employees to “drive their own career car” if we can’t support the message internally?

If full-on career conversations are not embraced internally, people come to career coaches where the certainty of anonymity and confidentiality allow a full exploration of options (including staying within their current organization) without jeopardizing their current role.

Hiding from the career development discussion doesn’t help.

After attending a SHRM workshop this summer about employee engagement and career development, I spoke with HR managers who confirmed the challenge of honest career conversations. It’s a fact that some organizations have departments where employees would never talk honestly with the manager for fear it would make life in their current role intolerable. And, sometimes, it’s because managers haven’t been introduced to the coaching skills required to navigate that type of conversation.

As I implement programs that inspire employees to slide into the driver’s seat, I also challenge companies to explore a confidential career resource for employees until internal career dialogues are fully embraced. If your organization has adopted an approach that works, I’d love to hear your comments.

As you plan for more holistic support of your team in 2017, consider making career coaching available to drive engagement from the employee side. Career Wellness Partners can help – ask me how!

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Barbara reveals people to themselves. - TG

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