Merge's Blog

To motivate employees, have a career discussion

I am repeatedly asked for ideas on how to motivate employees; specifically, things that don’t cost a lot of money.  Well guess what?  Employees are motivated by conversations – genuine meaningful dialogues with their supervisors and managers – and the only cost associated with any of these is your time.  Previously, I’ve blogged about saying thank you, thanking an employee’s spouse and family, and telling them why; today my suggestion is to have a career discussion.  Yup, another conversation, this time about what your employee hopes to achieve and aspire to in his/her career.  Make a commitment to yourself that you will schedule at least thirty minutes with each of your employees within the next month to do nothing else but discuss their career objectives.  And what should you talk about in this meeting?


  • What type of eventual role do you aspire to?  (Within or outside the company)
  • How do you see yourself getting there?  (Consider education and career path in your dialogue).
  • What specific skill development are you looking for?

Offer advice on:

  • What job opportunities or specific assignments to seek out
  • People to meet and develop relationships with
  • Whether your organization can offer them the opportunities they need to achieve their goals in the long-term
  • Your experiences

Just in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t matter whether you work in a large corporation or a small independent office; nor does it make any difference as to what type of industry or job you’re in.  In fact it doesn’t even matter if your dialogue has a clear outcome for your employee.  What really matters is that you have the conversation.  It’s the very act of giving your time that demonstrates a genuine interest in your employee and a desire to see him/her succeed.  And that’s what makes this conversation hugely motivating.

Well, as always, I’m interested in your experiences.  Do you have career discussions with your employees?  Have you found that they serve as a motivator, or are they the opposite – they demotivate?  I would love to hear your perspective.

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