When you look back at 2022, what will you be most proud of having accomplished?
As we closed 2021 at Talent Plus, each colleague engaged in a Career Investment Discussion (CID) with their leader to highlight successes from the past year and explore development opportunities ahead. The Career Investment Discussion is a tool that we created to address the need for a guide to these types of discovery conversations with employees. They can be used in different contexts, like learning about a new team member, conducting a monthly check-in, or career planning.
Routine status updates are helpful for us to stay in touch, but they often focus on the surface level. There is great value in periodic conversations that dig deeper to understand how employees are feeling, their level of fulfillment and engagement, and to share ideas and needs that are less likely to come out in day-to-day interactions.
The CID’s power comes from significant questions that elicit informative dialogue between a leader and team member. The questions are designed to gain a better understanding of people, drawing out insights to craft individualized development journeys for each employee.
Career Investment Discussions are conversations. They are not about the leader, and they are not a performance evaluation. Rather, they open the door to freely explore additional responsibilities, learning opportunities, and mentor or coaching relationships for the employee. Other topics covered include communication preferences, feedback for the leader, preferred motivation and recognition, resources, and support.
While a CID serves as a useful guide, there are several additional practices that will enable leaders to make the most of the tool:
- The appropriate cadence for these discussions will be different for each person; however, they should be done annually at a minimum.
- Schedule this conversation in advance and provide the employee with questions and topics you intend to cover. Some people can answer these questions in the moment, but many prefer to reflect and come prepared.
- When you add this conversation to your calendar, add thirty minutes afterward to immediately execute any follow-up items. Do them while you are feeling inspired by the discussion you have just concluded. This will keep the momentum going.
- Take notes. You may have a good memory, but your notes will be much more reliable in the weeks and months to follow. Store your notes somewhere you can find them and refer to them. This is invaluable information that you can leverage to motivate and grow your employee. Do not take it for granted.
For a CID to work most effectively, it is imperative that the employee trusts the leader enough to openly share their honest thoughts and feelings. The employee must trust their leader to only use the information shared for good, and they must also trust that their leader will actually do something with this information. If they do not believe this, what motivation do they have to truly open up?
Even if you believe that you have a strong, trusting relationship with your team members, how you frame these conversations is crucial in facilitating a sense of trust. Emphasize that the intent of the CID is to better understand the employee so you can better support their career aspirations. As you continue these discussions, your actions will either prove or disprove this to the employee and will dictate how little or how much they share with you in future discussions.
Successful companies recognize the importance of attracting, retaining, and growing top talent. An individualized approach to growing talent is more likely to motivate people to stick with their development journey — even more so when they believe they have the full endorsement and support of their leader.
We know that employees who see clear paths for career growth at their current organization are more likely to stay. The Career Investment Discussion is one tool that leaders can add to their arsenal to better invest in the growth and development of their team members.