Conversations to Engage, Develop and Challenge

Talk is cheap … or so the saying goes. But when it comes to what matters most to employees today, talk is one of the most valued commodities organizations have to offer.

In a recent survey by Career Systems International, a vast majority of Human Resource and Talent Management professionals said career development conversations are the types of conversations employees most want to have with their manager. On the flip side, these same professionals report they are not happening. What is? Conversations about daily operations and tasks.

And while every employee needs to know the “what and how of their job today,” they are thinking about a whole lot more. Can I see my future in your future? Do I really like it here? What’s next for me?

The simple truth? Talk is exactly what employees want … we’re just not giving it or giving the kind they want. Conversations to engage, develop and challenge employees are the bedrock of strong relationships between employees and managers. These conversations can and do create an environment where employees feel valued, respected and heard.

So, why aren’t we doing it? Turns out, talk may not be cheap, and it can be hard. For some, that is. Common fears from “what if I can’t give or get what I want” to “I don’t know what to say” hold all of us back from having meaningful, authentic conversations at work. What if it wasn’t that hard?

Turns out, it doesn’t have to be.

Start by cultivating a sense of wonder in your organization. People are inherently curious. Conversations can help us harness and direct that curiosity to engage, develop and challenge others. How? Remember, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Ask powerful questions and then listen, really listen to what others are saying. Then, ask another. Suspend your need to rush the conversation along, stop yourself from answering the question for them, and approach each and every conversation with a sense of wonder … I wonder what really inspires this person … I wonder what they want to get out of this opportunity … I wonder what skill they really want to develop.

When we really listen, we are often really surprised. Let your employees surprise you and don’t be afraid to surprise others. After all, we all want conversations to engage, develop and challenge. It’s up to you to make them happen.

Conversations kick-starters you can use in your organizations today!

Conversations to Engage

  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • What makes you stay?
  • What might entice you away?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • What kind of support do you need from me? What are you not getting?

Conversations to Develop

  • What opportunities are available for your continued growth and development?
  • What skills do you most want to develop in the coming year?
  • What career option most appeals to you in the next three years?
  • What do you most want to learn about?
  • What is the most enriching aspect of your work?

Conversations to Challenge

  • What is holding you back from taking the next step at work?
  • What is your reputation in the organization?
  • Who do you enjoy collaborating within the organization? How are you building that network?
  • What can you improve on?
  • What feedback do you need and from whom?

“Let your employees surprise you and don’t be afraid to surprise others.”

This article is written and published by Career Systems International.

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