“The wrong person in the wrong place = Regression
The wrong person in the right place = Frustration
The right person in the wrong place = Confusion
The right person in the right place = Progression
The right people in the right places = Multiplication.”
– John C Maxwell
As business leaders we all know the impact of ‘people power’. All too often they are the key to winning and performing great work or conversely they are the greatest source of pain, frustration and angst. Sure we need great systems and good processes but without the right people, in the right place at the right time, our businesses and teams will never realize their full potential.
As leaders one of our greatest challenges is completing this people puzzle and doing so in an environment that is ever changing. Just when you think you’ve got it right something happens that requires a pivot, shift or sometimes even a complete turn about. Whilst it’s
one thing for us to know and recognize this, taking your people on this journey is another thing. The reality is we are all under constant pressure to manage change, do more with less and find new sources of competitive advantage, so truly understanding the capability,
ambitions and motivations of our people has never been so important. Failing to do so sees us not only risking ‘business vitality’ but also stability, opportunity and return.
As leaders there are three fundamental people questions we need to answer if we are going to build healthy, fit and thriving businesses:
What can our people do?
What do they want to do?
Where do they best fit in my team or business?
For many managers and leaders there still exists an enormous reluctance to engage in the necessary conversations that provide these answers – misunderstandings, confused expectations, individual sensitivities, lack of trust and uncertainty about business
directions all form a part of this reluctance. The reality though is that if we don’t acknowledge or truly understand what our people can do, want to do and where they best fit, the following scenarios tend to emerge:
• High performing employees who are looking for fresh challenges will begin to coast along
• Outstanding employees who are often deemed to be critical to future success, will leave in search of other opportunities
All scenarios are problematic and unfortunately are often not addressed in a timely or appropriate manner because many of our managers simply don’t know how to have
the ‘career chat’ in a genuine and authentic manner.
Whilst performance reviews tend to highlight this contribution and value retrospectively, Career Conversations focus on future contributions and help employees and businesses align this contribution for mutual success.
So what are the keys to conducting successful Career
Preparation: Preparation as they say is the key to success. In order to maximise the time and opportunity it is critical that both managers and employees are given time and practical frameworks to with. These frameworks should allow for individuals to reflect, plan and discuss their contributions and ambitions and explore how they align to the needs of the business.
Communication: Given that trust and transparency are built over time and through active collaboration and positive interactions only reinforces the need for regular communication. The adage ‘you have to give a bit to get a bit’ certainly rings true. Sharing your business objectives, challenges and opportunities will help individuals explore how their background can compliment what is required. It will also help them set realistic career goals and drive career and role ownership.
Accountability: In order to ensure that the conversation doesn’t remain just that, it is important to conclude any meeting with a clear plan that has mutually agreed actions, timelines and milestones. This will also ensure that all follow up dialogue is relevant and action orientated and further demonstrates the importance and value placed on defining and supporting career ambitions and progression.
Follow Up: Regular conversations are crucial to ensuring your employee’s plan is moving forward. As well as offering opportunities to provide or gather support, they also consolidate purpose and strengthen relationships. It is also worth remembering that informal conversations can also add enormous value.
With our people being our greatest source of business vitality, failing to understand what they want to do with their careers is risky business. Organisations can all too easily find themselves in jeopardy of not only losing talented people but also risking disengagement and lost productivity and opportunity. Conversely businesses that actively promote and create a culture of individual career management are far better positioned to succeed as they not only attract, engage and retain the brightest people in the marketplace, but also help individuals take ownership of their careers and success.
Margot Andersen is a global careers and talent mobility expert. As the owner and founder of talentinsight Australia and Insync Network Group, she is passionate about seeing individuals confidently owning their careers; and organisations building and leveraging the capability of their people as they move in and around the business and globe.