Using Career Management to build engagement | S1 E11

First published: 18 August, 2020

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Series 1
Using Career Management to build engagement | S1 E11

Is it time your organisation employed strategic career management?

In this episode of Engaging Internal Comms, The Big Picture People’s Craig Smith introduces listeners to Antoinette Oglethorpe and discusses her area of expertise – career management

An award-winning consultant, coach, speaker and author, Antoinette describes the work she does with organisations and individuals as “Developing employees’ careers in organisations, and progression of a person’s working life within an organisation as well as between organisations and between jobs.” She helps to answer the question, “How can we retain, engage and develop people by helping them develop careers within the current organisations?” and provides the link between proactively managing careers and an organisation’s bottom line.

The ROI of a strategic career management approach

“Research carried out by the Corporate Executive Board (who are now owned by Gartner) showed that 70% of employees were dissatisfied with what they perceived to be the career opportunities within their organisation,” Antoinette explains.

It would appear, then, that the traditional belief that employees leave managers no longer holds true. Now employees leave their organisation because of career development. Research by the CIPD (of which Antoinette is a Chartered Fellow) confirms this, showing that some key factors that influence employee engagement are all to do with careers, and it is these that make employees feel more valued and engaged to develop within the organisation rather than seek opportunity elsewhere.

Those organisations that manage career development effectively benefit from greater creativity and collaboration. In larger organisations there are likely to be more career opportunities, but the problem that employees have is navigating these – and organisations are often poor at providing forums that help their people discover potential career paths.

What can managers and employees do to develop careers more effectively?

Antoinette says that organisations are experiencing shifts and new trends in career management.

“It was all very linear and traditional,” she explains. “The world has moved on. Jobs will exist in a few years that don’t exist now. Jobs that exist now won’t exist in a few years. We have flatter structures, and rapidly changing environments and organisations.”

Antoinette is describing the shift from traditional career progression through status and pay grade to an evolution of experiential career paths. “Rather than promotions,” she says, “it’s about enhancing our value to our current organisation.”

She describes this change as one of “enjoyability and employability”, in which people develop careers in which they love their work and enhance their employability in the future. However, this can cause difficulties for managers and employees who still think traditionally:

  • Managers feel stuck in the opportunities they can provide
  • Employees feel stuck in the opportunities available to them

Consequently, it is incumbent upon managers to have different conversations with their employees when discussing their careers. Instead of asking where an employee wants to be in five years, managers should encourage the employee to reflect on their career to date. This will help the manager (and the employee) understand what the employee most enjoys about their work

From such conversations, the employee develops greater self-awareness, the manager is better informed of what the employee might want to do (and where and with whom), and they can explore opportunities to help the employee achieve their goals within the organisation.

These goals can only be achieved if the managers have the skills to conduct such conversations and the employee reframes their career progression toward experiential career development.

What can managers do now?

Craig and Antoinette discuss what is holding organisations back from a career management approach, and Antoinette talks about the lack of confidence that managers have in discussing career development with their people.

“They’re scared they will open up a Pandora’s Box and they’re not going to be able to close it again.” Yet not having the conversation is the biggest mistake. No manager will have all the answers, but it is important to get employees exploring the opportunities within the organisation.

Antoinette believes that more creativity is needed to evolve roles to the employee, and that managers and organisations need to not be hindered by the rigidity of job titles.

Antoinette’s consultancy has developed a Career Conversation Toolkit specifically aimed at managers, mentors and coaches. This toolkit frames the conversation with questions that help the employee to explore their career to date, understand their current role, skills, interest, and experience, and explore different opportunities. This helps “identify clear short-term milestones to work toward and action steps that the employee can take to make progress.”

The ABC of strategic career management

As this episode draws to its conclusion, Antoinette discusses how she feels the COVID-19 lockdown will change the way that people think about their careers, and the real opportunity it has given for people to become more self-aware. She feels that people’s jobs will change, and that organisations will need to take their employees’ opinions into consideration when deciding on the next evolution of work.

Antoinette provides a useful ‘ABC’ model which should help managers and organisations develop out of their rigidity and evolve their culture more effectively. Conversation should be had with employees to discuss:

  • Ambitions of the individual
  • Business of the organisation
  • Connection between A and B

This is a not-to-be-missed episode of Engaging Internal Comms for organisations and managers who wish to develop 21st century strategies to retain and develop their employees.

Useful Links

Antoinette’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoinetteoglethorpe/

Antoinette’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/antoinette.oglethorpe.7

You can also find Antoinette on her website: https://www.antoinetteoglethorpe.com/about/

You’ll find a range of great resources here, including the Career Conversation Toolkit and a range of free eBooks: https://www.antoinetteoglethorpe.com/resources/

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