1. Start with a performance review
As we discussed earlier, you want to kick off this process with your employee’s performance review. We suggest starting with a 360° performance review, where you gather data from various sources — including managers, peers, direct reports, and even customers/vendors.
We recommend that you read our step-by-step guide on writing a performance review (as a respondent) to also make the most of this process and give your report helpful, actionable feedback.
From the data you gather during a performance review, you can start to pick up on employee strengths and areas for improvement. This information can help when you go to discuss plans and opportunities with your team members.
2. Create a general career development talk framework
If your organization doesn’t currently have a career development talk framework, now is the perfect time to work with your company’s people ops/HR leaders to create one.
It’s easy for unconscious bias to slip its way into conversations like this, so be mindful. For example, did you know that, without unconscious bias awareness, managers tend to hire and promote people who look like them?
You’ll want to take a look at the data: Who gets promoted? Who has more opportunities for career moves and development? The people ops team should connect with employees to understand how they feel about the career development process at your organization.
Work with HR to define what this process will look like going forward. You might want to find answers to the following questions:
- When should we have career development talks?
- How long should these talks be? (We suggest 30-45 minutes depending on the case/complexity.)
- How should we format advice? Do we need to create growth plans?
- Is there an agenda of things we must cover during these conversations?
- If an employee is struggling with performance, will their career development talks look different?
Standardizing this process will benefit employees across your organization. Once everyone is working with the same framework, you can uncover hidden talent and potential in all your people.
If using an employee enablement platform like Leapsome, you’ll be able to create a standard agenda to be used in all career development talks. What’s more, you can sync it with your calendar, easily access performance review data (and analytics), add talking points, and write down private and public notes and action items before, during, and after your talk.
3. Prepare for the career development conversation
After you know when the talk will be held and how the discussion will be conducted, it’s time to prepare for the conversation.
Give yourself enough time before and after the conversation to review the material and prepare for the discussion. At Leapsome, we suggest having at least thirty minutes blocked off before and after your talk.
Write down any of your immediate suggestions, so you remember to bring them up as it makes sense during the conversation. Employee needs will likely lead this interaction, so have some notes to maximize discussion time.
4. Host the career development conversation
After you’ve done the prep work, it’s time to have a conversation with your report. You’ll want to open this exchange with a quick check-in. Let your report know that this conversation is happening to help them excel within the organization.
Make sure that you aren’t coming out of left field with what you are discussing. Career development talks aren’t about digging up new flaws. Employees should know about any negative things you might discuss during this chat from performance reviews or 1:1s.
Take time during the talk to:
- Discuss career goals and aspirations at the company and beyond.
- Come up with potential short- and long-term strategies for how the employee will progress at the company.
- Answer questions the employee might have about their tenure with the organization, so they get what they need from the discussion.
Before you wrap up the conversation, take some time to outline the next steps. Everyone should leave a career development talk feeling like they are on the same page.
Follow-up best practices for having a career development talk with an employee
Restate the conversation’s highlights in an email
Send a short summary email to your employee during the buffer time you added to your call. This email shouldn’t be a next step plan. Instead, let employees know what you talked about and give them some time to think about what they want to do next.
Plan next steps with your employee
When your next 1:1 with this employee comes around, you can put some more thought around the next steps. Encourage your reports to consider their ultimate career goals, and you can start putting together the skills and experiences they need to get there.
Format a career progression framework
You might even decide to make a personalized plan to help your team member conceptualize the best strategy for progressing in their career.
Check in every quarter to continue the conversation
Once you’ve had your career development talk, don’t put the conversation on the backburner. Instead, continue to have conversations quarterly to check in on progress as you get closer to the next performance review.
You can host these conversations inside your weekly 1:1s with your team members. Taking just a few minutes to discuss career development every quarter can make a big difference.
Get feedback on the process
After you’ve completed the career development talk process, take some time to gather feedback from your employees. We encourage you to send out a survey to participants who go through your new development process. Once you start collecting feedback, go through the responses, and make adjustments as necessary.
— Managers should coach their reports every step of the way! Don’t know where to start? Read our step-by-step guide on giving constructive feedback to employees. 😉