“These people have careers, not jobs.” After yet another act of extraordinary service,  a traveling companion commented on the extremely high level of customer service provided by our hotel. Not just what was done, but also how.  The staff was genuinely pleased to be of service. Their work was viewed in a bigger picture context, working “in the service,” not just what we call a job.

How can you help your employees view their work in this context? Begin by holding this view of their work, and then acting on it, yourself.

These meetings are focused on career development, looking forward. This is a very different meeting from a performance review, which is looking backward.

These meetings create relationships. They allow the hopes and aspirations of employees to be understood. They demonstrate respect.

They often give you access to information with an organizational perspective that youotherwise wouldn’t have access to, because it generates dialogue.

A little structure, rather than free form, is useful and helps the employee organize their thoughts ahead of time. Use something like the Tour of Duty template from The Alliance, or even just a short series of questions for the employee to think about ahead of time, such as these:

  • How are you using your strengths? What strengths aren’t being used?
  • What are you learning? What would you like to learn?
  • What are your aspirations for the next 2-3 years? Longer term?

Be clear that you are not creating commitments, but an understanding if there is an opportunity that is mutually beneficial, you are committed to support the development.

Make sure you leave time for questions too. You want to create dialogue, not interview.

Many of my senior level clients have development conversationswith each of their employees at least once a year. It is a time commitment? Yes. Modeling behavior is an important responsibility of a CEO. If you are viewing your employees with a long term, career oriented perspective, chances are greatly increased that your managers will too. Everyone benefits.

Karen Walker
— One Team Consulting


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