career development

Does Career Development Make a Difference?

Does making career development a priority make sense?

For years HR departments have included an ‘official’ career development conversation somewhere among three or four conversations managers are asked to have at specific times during the year. Lengthy debates have ensued over whether the topic of career development should be included with other topics in one of the standard – usually quarterly, one-on-one discussions between the manager and the direct report or addressed in a standalone meeting focused solely on the employee’s career aspirations. Another approach has been to touch lightly on career development now and then, or maybe just leave it to the employee to bring up the subject when and if they’re ready. After all, individuals are supposed to own their careers.

Rather than viewing career development as an addition to other conversations or as one more thing to add to an already overflowing list of To Do’s, why not switch the lens and view it as a fundamental part of the employee experience?

There are four core assumptions that enable this lens switch:

One – Everyone has a career. Professionals are not the only people who have careers and certainly not the only group that wants and needs career development. A career pattern might be made up of years spent in one role doing one type of manual labor or could be viewed as a patchwork of varied experiences or roles of increasing responsibility. When an individual wants to stay put – loving what they do – their career development focuses on continuing to find ways to make that role as exciting and energizing as they need it to be to remain productive and continue contributing. When another individual wants variety or aspires to a greater scope of work or authority, career development means using the present experiences and time preparing for what could be — and should be — next.

Two – Career development is a powerful motivator. Surveys continue to point to career development as an essential element of effective engagement strategies. When employees can envision a future inside the organization, they are much more willing to stay and, in fact, they report higher levels of commitment to the success of the company or mission. If that line of sight to the future is missing, they will disengage and leave.

Three – Career growth is mandatory. This statement sometimes generates resistance. The cries of “But what if I don’t want to grow!” or “I’m happy right where I am.” My response is, “That’s your choice – AND – that role, whatever it is, will change around you. So your growth – your career development – will be, for the time being, ensuring that you grow right along with the role.” The world of work is changing too rapidly for anyone – in any job or role – to stand still and hope things will remain the same. From the service employee who last month was writing orders and this month is entering information into a tablet to the engineer exploring applications for artificial intelligence – jobs are changing. Growth is mandatory.

Four – Career development doesn’t have to be difficult. Yes, it requires some time. Yes, it requires some thought – on the part of the individual and the manager. And yes, it requires commitment on the part of the organization to provide tools, resources and opportunities. AND it can be integrated into what is already happening every day, every week, every month. When employees understand what it means to be the career owner; when managers know when and how to step in to help; and when organizations supply the surrounding support structure, career development happens. Conversations transform into ongoing dialogue rather than check-the-box meetings and rushed discussions.

In an HRO Today article I co-authored with Beverly Kaye recently entitled “Plenty of Room to Grow,” we highlighted continuous growth – the career development of individual employees – as the magical intersection of needs – the point where the needs of the individual, the manager and the organization meet.

  • Employees need and want to work in ways that are meaningful for them – career development moves them toward that objective.
  • Managers need and want teams of people who are performing at their best – career development moves a team toward that result.
  • And organizations need and want a workforce that is ready, willing and able to meet the challenges of today as well as what tomorrow will bring – career development equips employees to deliver on that outcome.

So the answer to the questions posed in the title is ‘yes’ – career development does make a difference!

  Wendy Tan   Aug 26, 2018   Career Development   Comments Off on Does Career Development Make a Difference?   Read More

Elevating the Employee Experience

Employee engagement. What is it? Where do you start? And how do you go from a place where you are managing attrition to attrition managing you? EY, a global professional services organization of member firms with more than 200,000 employees and operating in more than 150 countries, faced a problem common in the professional services industry: attrition. In past years, attrition of personnel from the assurance practice of the U.S. firm’s central region started to trend upward. Today, the U.S. firm is seeing a decrease overall and, at some levels, more than a 10 percent decrease. What happened? Did people just stop leaving? No, but EY realized success when it began to understand what was behind the attrition in the first place.

“Attrition challenges led EY to re-evaluate its employee engagement and career-planning strategies.”

Connecting the dots: Exit data and onboarding

“We started centralizing our exit data and connecting it to our onboarding process,” says Diana Kutz, a talent leader at EY. “By connecting these dots, we got ahead of risk. We also started conducting focus groups with our professionals on why they stay. Why people leave and why they stay is not always the same, so understanding both is equally important.”

Some of the data captured include whether professionals feel they are using their skills and if they are experiencing and doing the things EY described during the interview process. Personnel also were asked if they understand EY’s vision, how they fit into the vision if they would recommend EY as a future employer to others if they are satisfied with their decision to join EY—and would they make the same decision again, knowing what they know now.

Exit surveys also are telling. The information learned from these conversations fed into the company’s onboarding process, so EY can see at an individual level how one acclimates over a period of time. “It’s all about putting leading and lagging indicators together,” Kutz says.

The firm also started to track if an individual’s departure was a push or a pull. A push means EY had complete control over the turnover, and a pull means it did not.

A typical push could be the lack of honest feedback and be passing the responsibility to someone else to deliver the performance feedback. A pull could be a situation where a professional leaves the firm to care for a sick relative or because of a spouse’s employment relocation to a region where EY does not have an office.

“We directionally look for our push to come down, which indicates our culture is moving in the right direction,” Kutz explains. “Since our journey began, we’ve seen our push come down over 15 percent and it directionally continues to come down over time, which tells me we are moving our culture in the right direction.”

Next, EY introduced an engagement team survey called “Rate My Engagement,” which enables team members to share their experience at the engagement team level in four key areas: team culture, flexibility, client environment/engagement, and communications.

“Collecting these insights enabled us to understand trends at the engagement team level, where our professionals spend over 80 percent of their time in an average week,” Kutz notes. “Rate My Engagement also enabled our teams to focus on their unique needs as a collective team, providing greater ownership into the team’s experience.”

She adds: “Teams are recognizing engagement team efficiencies and, ultimately, achieving better business results, such as higher levels of retention that increases team continuity and other sustainable results.”

Looking back, the best part about Rate My Engagement is how the firm has been able to replicate it. What started as an idea from junior staff, adopted by regional leadership, has been rolled out rapidly across the firm and is expanding globally.

“Connecting the engagement team experience to our exit and onboarding data has given us a deeper appreciation for what impacts the experience for our people while seeing a direct correlation to a team’s business results. It’s been incredibly powerful,” Kutz says.

JournEY Day

Collecting the data from all three sources also helped to inspire members of EY’s workforce who wanted to be a part of the solution. Their inspiration? JournEY Day.

JournEY Day is an annual event dedicated to focusing on key business drivers, learning, and critical issues facing the assurance practice of the U.S. firm’s central region. The theme for JournEY Day shifts each year and often is based on the pulse of the organization and what’s top of mind with EY professionals.

To take the pulse, EY pushes out regular surveys to professionals of its assurance practice, but not just any survey. It’s a gamified “morale thermometer” designed to help the organization understand how employees are feeling on a five-point scale. “The thermometer is pushed out to employees during the busy season, arguably the most stressful time each year, so we can really gauge people’s sentiments,” Kutz explains.

“Our theme for 2015 focused on cars, so we featured a morale speedometer with the scale ranging from ‘My tank is empty’ to ‘Topped off and ready for the long haul.’” It turned out that the tank was empty for quite a few EY employees on the topic of planning and managing one’s career at EY, so career planning became the focus of JournEY Day in 2015. Leveraging the thermometer, EY follows up with team discussions on what the firm can stop, start, or continue doing. Those thoughts are centralized at the regional level so top themes can be addressed. These meetings also allow for innovative ideas to be shared and, more importantly, implemented.

This year, leveraging the car theme, event organizers created and deployed a personal application for employees called “Me, MY experiences” in time for JournEY Day. The tool showcased the many experiences available to assurance professionals at EY and provided employees with a way to sort potential career and personal experiences in the short-, medium-, and long-term categories.

At the same time—and because EY wants its professionals to envision their career journey—employees could rank how they were feeling along the way with road signs such as “Baby on Board,” “Dead End,” or “Green Light—Full Speed Ahead!” The tool enables consistent conversations between managers and their employees and a way to drive dialogue around many important topics.

The personal application was only the beginning. On JournEY Day, leaders and managers gathered face-to-face to focus on career planning and value. Some of the events of the day included:

  • A team building activity that highlighted how a career in audit might look like. They developed a game that challenged employees along their career route, and participants could collect envelopes with tips, similar to tips one might gather from a mentor, to help them successfully navigate their journey.
  • A panel discussion with boomerang employees (those who left the firm and returned), experienced hires, alumni, headhunters, and global exchange employees to allow for varying views in careers. “No two careers are alike, even if the same in the title, so it’s important to share stories of varied experiences as likely many of our professionals have similar questions or thoughts. Our message is ‘Don’t go it alone—have conversations, be curious,’” Kutz explains.
  • Breakout sessions, by level so that employees in each rank could see the next steps and get curious about the possibilities of their future with the firm.

Who am I and what are my options?

To further demonstrate the value of an EY career, the regional assurance group recently added a framework it has coined “Upnext,” produced and developed by the group’s professionals, that enables them to see the peripheral and upward view of the opportunities both inside and outside the firm, including the value of their experiences over time. Accompanying the framework were monthly calls with rotating topics on the various options available at various points in an employee’s career both inside and outside the firm to further develop and expand one’s experiences over time. The topics range from internal service line

Accompanying the framework were monthly calls with rotating topics on the various options available at various points in an employee’s career both inside and outside the firm to further develop and expand one’s experiences over time. The topics range from internal service line opportunities to other service line opportunities, to external opportunities such as joining a board.

Anyone interested can dial in and ask questions or just listen. This framework also helps assurance professionals update their “Me” diary and leads career conversations to better questions about what comes next.

“We are in the business of developing careers,” Kutz says. “Building tomorrow’s leaders today starts with transparency, which builds trust. We can either be a part of their thought process or not, and I’d prefer the former. My hope is that each professional can learn more about who they are and what their options are.”

The winning formula

EY’s quest to reduce attrition is working. During the past few years, the firm’s annual Global People Survey results show that EY’s central region assurance group realized a 12-point increase in its employee engagement index with steady climbing results year over year. And this was achieved during a busy time of year in a highly regulated environment. In addition, the central region assurance group has realized a higher concentration, compared with history, of boomerangs returning to the firm.

So, what’s at the core of EY’s winning formula for increasing engagement and reducing attrition? The people.

“Our people have the answers,” Kutz notes. “You just have to capitalize on the opportunity to get them involved.” Leaders must set the tone and be catalysts for change, but their engagement needs to be fun, not forced. It’s not always about what you do, but more about how you do it. And, when it comes to measuring success, look to build it into existing processes.

“You’ll never be surprised once your analytics are built into the way you operate and offer accountability,” says Kutz.

Finally, success at EY hinges on being consistent for the long haul.

“I am not claiming victory yet. We continue to learn by diving deeper into our success indicators through predictive analytics and other qualitative measures,” explains Kutz. “More importantly, I believe in the power of our people having a voice in the business. Doing so creates an innovative culture that is fun and agile—it’s our culture, it’s our exceptional EY experience.”

“Leaders must set the tone and be a catalyst for change but their engagement needs to be fun, not forced.”

This article is written by Beverly Crowell, for Talent Development Magazine

  Wendy Tan   Jul 03, 2017   Article-Consulting, Engagement, Resource for Performance Conversations   Comments Off on Elevating the Employee Experience   Read More

How Do You (and Others) See Your Personal Brand?

In the early days of my career it never really occurred to me how much my reputation played a role in the type of career opportunities I was provided at work. I felt like I had a pretty good sense of how I was perceived in my organization, but I never really asked about the stories other people tell about me.

Truthfully, I probably didn’t want to know–at least at the subconscious level. Nonetheless, I finally got the courage to ask a few people I knew who would tell me the truth. I heard some nice things as well as some things I didn’t want to hear– and I definitely found out about areas I needed to work on.

After all, I concluded, if my reputation is my brand, I better start paying attention to what my brand is saying to others.

It used to be that your boss’s perception of your work was what mattered most. Today, it’s your boss and beyond. In our globally dispersed but technologically connected organization, you have interactions with a wide variety of people. Their opinions matter and the sum total of those perceptions make up your reputation. Among other things, your reputation consists partially of stories others tell about you. These stories sometimes take on a life of their own. Rumors and anecdotes that are told about you enhance or limit your career opportunities.

“The further removed people are from firsthand experience of your performance,
the more their assessment is based on your reputation.”

How do you manage perceptions that are everywhere?

You see the truth about you and your work, find an environment where you shine, and live up to your best story about yourself.

Here are four actions that help you develop your truth to reputation to personal brand and ultimately to a leverageable asset.

  1. Seek realistic feedback. Ask for feedback from others you interact with: your boss, peers, colleagues, etc. to learn what they think and say about you. Initiate the conversation and be open to their feedback. Develop a receiving mindset. Share insights, offer ideas, ask questions, listen, invite participation from others, and be open to their feedback.
  2. Compare feedback from others with your self-assessment. By comparing their view of your skills and potential with your own, you can test your self-image against reality and develop a perspective on how people view you and your work. This is a great way to get valuable information about your reputation. You can use this knowledge to enhance your skills, change performance habits, emphasize strengths, further develop your weaker areas and manage your brand.
  3. Consciously brand your reputation. What words or phrases describe your best work? What descriptions come to mind when co-workers think about you? Create and use words or phrases that truthfully describe your reputation. Name your strengths. Define what you do best, what sets you apart from others and what makes you different.
  4. Treat your reputation as an asset. In the world of high finance, the principle of financial “leverage” is generally accepted as a powerful way to build financial wealth. I like to think of one’s personal brand in the same way. I call it “reputational leverage”, with the idea being to create personal brand wealth. Build and communicate your brand through your actions. If you’re a visionary strategic leader, act on that strength. A charismatic people leader? Be one. A planning ninja? Keep it up.

Have you heard about the Dutch Admiral principle? This little-known story was shared in a leadership course I attended at Harvard years ago. I have found it to be a powerful concept.

“Not long ago, there were two junior officers in the Dutch Navy who made a pact. They decided that when they were at the various navy social functions, they would go out of their way to tell people what a great guy the other guy was. They’d appear at cocktail parties or dances and say, “What an unbelievable person Charlie is. He’s the best man in the Navy.” Or, “Did you hear about the brilliant idea Dave had?”

They revealed their pact to the public the day they were both made admirals – the two youngest admirals ever appointed in the Dutch Navy.” — Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life by Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy.

Mutual support. You might do something like the two admirals did, or you might create a strategic, symbiotic relationship with someone who is already reaching your target customer. Remember, like it or not, you are going to earn a reputation. The only question is how you’re going to build and manage it so that it becomes an asset you can leverage versus a liability you constantly have to compensate for.

Written by Pat Smith, CEO of Career Systems International

The concepts in this post are adapted from Career Systems International’s CareerPower ® 3.0 offering.


If these ideas are useful to you, check out our upcoming career planning and career coaching workshops on 20 and 27 Mar 2017.

Having sat through the entire career development session, we found the content relevant, insightful and inspiring. We enjoyed the stimulating and interesting ways you conveyed the key points. The engaging exercises helped us understand and remember the key concepts too. 

– Andrew Fung, Director, Caliberlink

Thank you so much for conducting the career development session and gave us a lot knowledge for clarifying our career roadmaps as well as doing our jobs in better ways.

– Gordon Chen, Corporate Trainer, Aegis Media

  Wendy Tan   Feb 10, 2017   Career Development   Comments Off on How Do You (and Others) See Your Personal Brand?   Read More

Owning Your Career by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans


To resuscitate your career, own it! This attitude is key. Take steps now to plan, build and strengthen it. Here’s how:

  • Know yourself.
  • Know your options.
  • Know how to take action.

Know yourself

Examine your interests, values and work skills. What do you love to do? Ask yourself:

  • What accomplishments at work have made me feel particularly proud?
  • What makes me feel unique in this organisation?
  • What kinds of things would I do if I could create my ideal workday?

The things you do well, value highly, and like doing give you a basic map for planning your career. Ask others:

  • What are my overdone strengths? (Too much of a good thing.)
  • What two skills should I strengthen? How would it help me, given what I want to do?

Seek out your critics. Listen to them. Get clear about your missing skills and those skills you overdo.

Know your options

Look around your organisation for trends, learning opportunities, and career options. You may be surprised to find projects, task forces, and jobs that will support your goals.

  • How much do you know about your organisation, industry, and profession?
    • What are the major industry, economic, political, and social changes that will affect this organisation?
    • What are the opportunities and problems ahead?
    • What counts for success here? How will that change in the future?

Not every step in a career has to be a step up. There are other options inside the organisation to consider. Talk to your boss to learn about these possibilities:

  • Moving laterally – a change in job, but not necessarily a change in level of responsibility
  • Exploring – testing and researching changes without permanent commitment
  • Enriching – seeding the current job with more chances to learn and grow
  • Realigning – adjusting the duties to reconcile them with other priorities and future possibilities

Imagine at least one move you could make in each of the above directions.

Know how to take action

Use this information to develop your plan. Be ready to answer these questions:

  • What new skills, knowledge, or abilities do I need to achieve my goals?
  • What are some short-term goals (3 to 6 months) that I could start on right now?
  • How can I gain new skills that will help me with my goals while in my current job?
    • What relevant experiences can I have through serving on committees and task forces?
    • Who in my network can help?

A clear plan of action turn goals into realities if you:

  • Write down your goals, steps and deadlines. Revise along the way.
  • Forge alliances with people who can help you.
  • Seek learning. Get training and experience to help you reach your goals.

Owning Your Career is doable if you look at yourself, look around and look ahead. You’re in charge of your career. You manage it within your company, within this economy and with the resources that you have.

“To resuscitate your career, own it! This attitude is key. Take steps now to plan, build and strengthen it.”

This blog post was written for getAbstract by Beverly Kaye and adapted from Love It Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work – Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. All rights reserved.


If these ideas are useful to you, check out our upcoming career planning and career coaching workshops on 20 and 27 Mar 2017.

Having sat through the entire career development session, we found the content relevant, insightful and inspiring. We enjoyed the stimulating and interesting ways you conveyed the key points. The engaging exercises helped us understand and remember the key concepts too. 

– Andrew Fung, Director, Caliberlink

Thank you so much for conducting the career development session and gave us a lot knowledge for clarifying our career roadmaps as well as doing our jobs in better ways.

– Gordon Chen, Corporate Trainer, Aegis Media

  Wendy Tan   Feb 10, 2017   Career Development   Comments Off on Owning Your Career by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans   Read More
Copyright ©2013-2020 The Flame Centre.