Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go | Beverly Kaye

Summary of: Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want
By: Beverly Kaye


In an age where engaged employees are crucial to a company’s success, the book ‘Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want’ by Beverly Kaye offers essential insights for managers seeking to foster growth and development among their staff. The book lays out the importance of consistent and focused career development conversations between managers and their employees, highlighting the benefits of short, frequent meetings. The author presents a three-fold approach, emphasizing the roles of hindsight, foresight, and insight discussions in nurturing employee careers. With practical strategies and thought-provoking questions, the book promises to guide managers in harnessing employees’ potential, ensuring both individual and organizational growth.

Career Development for Engaged Employees

Managers who prioritize career development for their staff benefit from increased productivity, profit, and loyalty. In-the-moment learning experiences are the most valuable, and managers must make time to have conversations with their staff. Career development should not be seen as a nuisance but as an opportunity to help others grow. Failure to provide training and career growth can result in disengagement and high employee turnover. Prioritizing career development is crucial for keeping employees engaged and motivated.

Revolutionize Career Development

Career development doesn’t have to be rigid and arduous. Frequent and open conversations between managers and employees can be more effective than the traditional lengthy annual evaluation meetings. These shorter meetings are easier to fit into busy schedules and demonstrate a deeper commitment to employees’ growth and development. Listening is key, with managers aiming to speak only 10% of the time. Curiosity is a vital leadership competency that fuels progress and momentum, and encouraging employees to explore their interests creates a supportive atmosphere. Conversations should focus on three categories: hindsight, foresight, and insight. Neglecting career development can result in losing valuable employees, so it’s essential for managers to take action.

The Art of Hindsight Conversations

Encouraging employees to reflect on their past job experiences can lead to profound self-awareness, allowing them to identify their abilities, blind spots, and conditions.

In today’s fast-paced world, managers need to encourage employees to take a moment to look backward and inward. The concept of hindsight conversations can help employees reflect on their past job experiences, which can lead to profound self-awareness. By understanding their skills and strengths, values, interests, dislikes, preferences, and weaknesses, employees can chart their trajectories using self-analysis based on hindsight.

Often people instinctively acknowledge their weaknesses more than their strengths. According to the book, managers should point out areas in which their workers excel, such as their attention to detail, organizational skills, or other strengths. However, some “strengths have a dark side.” For example, a person who is highly organized about projects and deadlines can become a “steamroller” who overwhelms others on the path to meeting targeted goals. Moreover, strengths are “context sensitive,” meaning strengths in some situations can be weaknesses in others. For example, a new leader’s knack of getting work done quickly might hinder his or her ability to allocate tasks to others.

If staff members dislike certain aspects of their jobs, or if their tasks don’t match their strengths, they shouldn’t pursue that sort of work. One way to use hindsight conversations is to conduct periodic reviews in which employees are asked perceptive questions that help them identify the most and least satisfying aspects of their jobs. Questions like: What positions have you held in the past? What gave you a sense of energy and purpose? What parts of each job made you feel sad, angry, bored or disengaged? Do you notice common themes in your previous positions? What type of work might you seek or avoid in the future?

One of the most effective ways managers can employ hindsight conversation in the workplace is by providing regular, constructive feedback. The lack of appraisals can lead to disengagement, stunted growth, lack of clarity, lost opportunities, and loss of talent. Managers need to give each person a few minutes of their undivided attention each month.

It’s crucial to couple negative feedback with positive feedback. The book emphasizes the importance of being specific when giving feedback and asking employees to focus on their ABC’s: abilities, blind spots, and conditions. Understanding their workplace preferences and any triggers that cause stress or panic can enable them to work best in their conditions.

In conclusion, encouraging employees to reflect on their past job experiences using hindsight conversations can lead to profound self-awareness, allowing them to identify their abilities, blind spots, and conditions. Managers need to regularly provide constructive feedback and help their employees focus on their ABC’s. Only in this way can organizations ensure talent retention and growth.

Foresight Conversations for Employee Growth

Encouraging foresight conversations with employees can help them think about the future, define career goals, and prepare for organizational and external changes. These talks help employees grow right where they’re planted, and can be done both one-on-one or in team settings. To gain new perspectives, team members can interview key individuals, focus on customers’ needs, research industry issues and trends, read trade publications, and attend relevant conferences and meetings. Lessons learned should be translated into career development. Each meeting should end with questions to be answered at the next meeting, fostering a more committed workforce.

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