Merge's Blog

#2 in our series on employee development strategies

Earlier this month, I kicked off our brand-new video series on employee development strategies with our first tip: invest in training. Today’s strategy: ask about and support your employees’ career aspirations.

Support your employees’ career aspirations

This is a two-parter. First, you need to make the time to ask. I always recommend that supervisors and managers schedule a 30-minute coffee meeting with each of their employees sometime within the first six months of their working relationship. The coffee meeting doesn’t actually have to involve coffee (even though it may).  But it should be away from the immediate workspace.

The purpose of this meeting is to talk about the employee, and not necessarily about their current job responsibilities. Sure, current issues may come up in the course of the conversation.  But the real goal of the coffee meeting is to find out more about the employee at a personal level. Who they are, their interests, their families, their hobbies, and yes, their career goals and aspirations. Make the meeting about the employee. And pay attention specifically to what they tell you about what they want to accomplish during their careers.

After you ask, support

Part two of this strategy is to support your employees’ career aspirations. So take the time at the end of this meeting to recap what you’ve heard the employee say, specifically in terms of short-term and long-term goals. The very act of repeating what you’ve heard back to the employee will let them know that you were listening, which is a powerful motivator. And then offer up one or two specific things that you are going to do to support the employee. It could be involving them in a department activity, introducing them to someone in the organization, sending them to a professional development course, offering a cross-training opportunity, or something else.

In subsequent instalments of this series on employee development strategies, I’ll offer up more ideas on explicit ideas of things you can do. But what is key here for this strategy to be successful is that you commit to taking a specific action. And follow through on it of course.

I’ll be back soon with another idea on employee development strategies, but for now, I’d love to hear your reactions to this tip. Are your career aspirations being supported by your manager? Are you doing this for your staff? Comment below.

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