Want your teams to step up and drive their own careers?

It’s expensive to recruit from outside and the market has been difficult with many people afraid to move between companies in recent years. Add to this the fast paced and ever changing business environment and it’s led to the disappearance of the career ladder with it morphing into more of a matrix style climbing frame. Businesses are having to adapt and do more with less, have flatter structures which leads to more people directly reporting to managers and to hit tougher targets to stay ahead. These kinds of pressures can often lead to the ‘softer’ aspects of leadership and management taking a back seat even by the most people focused business people.

So where does that leave members of the team in terms of building the career they want and developing personally at work?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been in conversation and heard a version of “my boss just gave me feedback that if I want to get on then I need to push for it myself – but I’ve got all the skills needed so why can’t they see it and promote me?”. It’s a fair challenge and often the boss would love to help but simply doesn’t have the time, resource or support to be able to for all their people. Likewise many of my clients who manage teams talk of a frustration they have that they want to help their people to grow, they simply don’t have the time to spend noticing where their talents and needs are. They see the benefit to the business as well as the organisation and yet without the person telling them what they want from their career they are unable to target their time to be able to make a difference for them.

If you want your teams to take greater ownership of their careers then there are a few things that you may want to begin to prioritise to help make it a reality.
A great first step to help team members take responsibility for driving their own careers is to support them in being able to articulate what they want. Deciding what you want can be a challenge in itself. Then being brave enough to say it out loud takes it to a whole new level of commitment. Having clarity of what you want is liberating, it means that when you hit that fork in the road your decision as to the right direction for you to is easier.

To help your teams begin to step up and take responsibility for their careers get them to complete this exercise:

Decide what you want – guiding questions

1. What do you want? What will it do for you?
2. How will you know when you’ve got it? What will you be seeing, hearing, feeling when you’ve got it? What will others be seeing, hearing and feeling when you’ve got it?
3. Can you start and maintain your desired outcome (what you want)?
4. When, where and with whom do you want it? When, where and with whom do you not want it?
5. What do you get out of your current situation and behaviour that you might want to keep?
6. Is it worth the cost to you? Is it worth the time it’s going to take? Is this outcome in keeping with your style, your sense of who you are?

Once you know what you want then it’s time to take action. DO something because one thing I notice is that as soon as people embark on this type of approach the momentum builds and there’s no stopping them. So get ready for your teams to get truly motivated!

Executive coach Sarah Lane, author of ‘Choices: from confusion to clarity’ (£14.99 Panoma Press) launches book to support business owners and leaders with supporting their people in creating the careers and lives they want.