The Power Of Career Conversation (Featured On The Straits Times – 22 Feb 2018)


The majority of organizations that I came across, face the uphill task of retaining their employees. Leaders and managers, often believe their talents will always be there for them.

They assume that their employees need to hold on to their jobs, hence they neglect to look after their growth. If leaders and managers continue to take their employees for granted, they are going to lose them, along with their influence and credibility.

What is a simple but powerful way to keep talents motivated, wanting to come to work every day? The answer is – have a career conversation.

Here are three key insights into why having the career conversation is a critical ability for leaders to harness if they want to take own careers and teams to the next level.

  • People want to grow

Focusing on growth empowers your employees to take on projects and challenges that they normally would not. This is important because we grow through challenges tasks – we will never improve if we work only on easy assignments.

If leaders can understand their employee’s aspiration in life and be a part of their journey, they will certainly have a reward greater than any financial return – their commitment. A team full of committed individuals is powerful because they can move mountains and makes the seemingly impossible, possible.

All these are achievable only if leaders carry out a career conversation with employees to discover what they want. The best leaders are those who take the time to understand their employee’s aspiration and motivations

As a result, such leaders often have the most committed teams that are able to over-deliver every time.

  • Delegate purposefully.

Through career conversations, leaders understand their employee’s motivation and what make them tick.

As a result, they strategically allocate projects that are aligned with that individual’s motivations. Due to the high intrinsic motivation, there is no need for the leader to look constantly over the employee’s shoulder. This enables him to run on his own and deliver without constant monitoring.

This frees up the leader’s time to focus on more important battles. When team members grow, the team grows. Taking on bigger challenges.

The time and effort invested in a career conversation reduces the possibility of people leaving for a higher pay package somewhere. They remained highly motivates with the growth opportunity that cannot be replaced by another organization.

  • Calibrate constantly.

A career conversation is an excellent way to engage in topics that are close to an employee’s heart. Leaders should have a constant calibration of the person’s performance now and then based on the career conversation – and not just the performance appraisal.

There is nothing to appraise if the person is already motivated to fulfill his or her promise during the career conversation. When key performance indicators are aligned to one’s career and aspiration, meeting those expectations is just a matter of time.

A career conversation is an almost fool-proof technique. It works like a charm, but not many leaders do it. That is why only a few leaders succeed with their teams.

In summary, I always tell leaders and managers that the question to ask is not how we can retain talent, but: “How do we ensure our talents return to us one day?”

That is a question that changes the entire ball game.