Article: Can career discussions help you retain employees?

#Retention

Can career discussions help you retain employees?

When done right, career discussions allow managers to utilize the innate potential of employees and shape their skills and experience in perfect synchronization with the business goals.
Can career discussions help you retain employees?

The modern employee and employer are struggling with maintaining workplace engagement. The global average of highly engaged workforce, according to a report by Steelcase, hovers at a dismal 13 percent. 

So, what about that big group of 87 percent who do not feel engaged at the workplace? They are the ones who are looking for any excuse to bail-out and look for better job opportunities. But what can career development programs and career discussions do to help plug this attrition? Can it help to engage these employees? Let’s find out.

Strengths and weaknesses

The first step to growth is identifying strengths and weaknesses. Managers and senior leadership must involve themselves to go over the strong and weak points of the employees, encouraging them to assess themselves at some stage. Personality tests, skill profiles, and performance appraisals should happen with the complete involvement of the employee rather than happening behind closed doors. Involving peers in getting a 360-degree review of the employee’s performance can help him unravel the opportunities to improve himself in his current role before moving to a new, higher role within the organization.

Development goals

Defining the development goals of an employee is a crucial part of a career discussion. It enables the employee to prioritize and fill gaps in his skill set to enhance his performance in his given role. The manager’s role in this process is to help the employee to ascertain a balance between work, career growth and personal life to ensure that their engagement at the workplace doesn’t suffer any work fatigue.

Identifying opportunities

Once the goals are defined, the employees need to find out opportunities to address them. Managers must be in a position to recommend experiential training, rotation of duties or mentoring - as required - to ensure that all the weak points in the employee’s necessary skill set get equal developmental opportunity. However, at this stage, managers need to ensure that employees have earmarked a realistic timeframe to achieve the development goals for themselves.

Defining the timeline

With the goals determined and opportunities identified, the employee must come forward to define a timeline and a set of activities that would enable him to achieve his development goals. At this stage of a career discussion, the employee has the onus to take the step forward, but it is the responsibility of the manager to encourage him with the right advice to stay on track.

  • Ensure that the career development path designed for the employee is in-line with the organizational skill requirements and addresses some future needs
  • A regular stream of constructive feedback on strengths and opportunities can help the employee focus on the things that need to be done to improve the odds for success
  • The employee may have questions regarding some of the options and opportunities that must be addressed immediately
  • Ensure that the employee’s workload allows allocation of enough time for engaging in development opportunities
  • Keep track of progress and any necessary path-corrections through regular discussions with the employee


While starting off the process of career discussion with an employee, managers must take into account their education and job history. These constitute telling signs of the employee’s capacity to learn and ensures that the effort put in by the organization and the employee are not doomed to fail.

Once the process has been established, then comes the point of selecting employees for career discussion. Ideally, this should apply to all employees equally. They should be able to walk up to their immediate managers and ask to be put on the list of career discussion participants. However, it becomes the organization’s prerogative to give preference to employees in mission-critical roles, for example team leaders. To make them more effective, the availability of such programs must be communicated clearly to every employee at regular intervals. As a step further, career discussion can be integrated with the performance appraisal process of your organization. 

When done right, career discussions allow managers to utilize the innate potential of employees and shape their skills and experience in perfect synchronization with the business goals. Successful implementation of career discussion, therefore, will not only leave a positive impact on employee engagement, but also on the success of the organization. 

Topics: Retention, Employee Engagement

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