• Carole Stizza

Career Conversations Matter More than You’ve been Told

In 2020, Forbes offered that career conversations are too often relegated to hiring or promotion conversations. That will not keep your talent around as we’ve suddenly started to understand in the “great resignation” of 2021 and 2022.


Please recognize that each individual needs to drive their own career and if you, as their boss, are not staying in tune with how they want to drive their career - they may drive themselves away from you. In a white paper titled Talk the Talk, it offers that currently, 89% of employees believe they are - or need to be - responsible for the development of their career. And 2/3 of individual performance drivers are tied to Career Conversations. With those statistics, not having career conversations may be why so many people are choosing to leave their current roles.


Radical candor recently posted several reasons that resonated with some of my current clients as to why career conversations are not happening. (To read the complete post please click the link)

  1. Leaders think that a performance review conversation is a career conversation. Sadly, this is far too common and a very inaccurate way to think. Performance reviews review performance that has already occurred, a career conversation focuses on what needs to happen next to keep an employee challenged, engaged in working for you, and where they really want to grow next.

  2. Managers are not informed that these types of conversations need to be happening. If they don’t know, they don’t do. Add to that they often haven’t ever received one themselves and they are left not knowing how to be optimally effective in this area. If you have managers you lead, start with them for your career conversations.

  3. Career conversations tend to be too short-term focused and not include where or how to grow in the next 3-5 years. Short-term focus includes how to meet numbers in the given year, which promotion is next, etc. 3–5 year conversations needs to include “What positions will be next for them in the company if they continue to succeed?” How can they make the biggest impact in each of those roles? What type of training should they look to invest time and resources in for each of those roles?

I was recently asked, “Where do we start in helping our people have career conversations?”

The Society of HR Management (SHRM) offers these 5 tips to get started.


Anticipate tough questions. Here are a few as examples:

  • Will my job be here tomorrow or in six months?

  • What options do I have to be secure at work?

  • How can I possibly achieve my career goals in this economy?

  • What can I do to recover from mistakes I’ve made and repair my reputation?

Follow a process to determine objectives. There are five critical keys to opening an effective career conversation with an employee: Appreciate, Assess, Anticipate, Align and Accelerate.


Ask questions—get personal and real. The best way to get to know an employee (and to help one understand himself or herself better) is to ask powerful questions. Appropriate questions will prompt thinking and self-reflection. When a manager asks the right questions, employees realize that their manager is prepared. They know that their manager cares, which establishes confidence and trust.


Plan how to start a conversation. If a conversation is started thoughtfully and with an objective in mind, managers will be amazed at the conversational journey they’ll have. Some perspectives to ask from are:

  • How are they unique? (provide examples of their success)

  • What are their capabilities? (how do they see themselves)

  • How is the world of work changing? (give them information)

  • What are their aspirations? (ask for short and long term)

  • How can they accelerate their learning? (what resources are available)

Tell the truth—engage employees as partners. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell the employee the truth. Don’t pretend to know. Don’t make up stuff. Don’t make promises that can’t be kept. Turn a lack of knowledge into a joint exploration and shared experience. Talk about working together to get an answer. Have a discussion in which the two of you can figure out how best to answer difficult questions. (To read more from SHRM click link above).


Understanding how career conversations can increase trust, retain the talent you want, and engage every employee by letting them know you care can be seen as a secret weapon in retaining the diverse talent you know will help you soar.


Do not wait to get permission to do this.

Be the initiative. Lead the charge.

Be the leader who has the career conversations that matter.


For more coaching tips that support your leadership, click here to get them sent to you weekly. To understand what coaching offers, do not hesitate to grab a quick call to simply lay out what challenges you’re facing.


Coaching isn’t for everything or everyone. Do take a few moment to find out if it is for you. How? Grab a call. What to expect? A short call to determine just that. And if you decide you’d like to explore more - before we do anything - I offer a complimentary deep dive session to get to the heart of things with you andTHEN we determine if what we’ve accomplished in that session is what will work for you.

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