Chapter 11 Leading a career conversation

‘To be able to ask a question clearly is two-thirds of the way to getting it answered.'

John Ruskin

You are now ready to lead a career conversation, but it's worth reminding yourself that it is a conversation! Satisfying conversations require both parties to truly listen to each other and to respond respectfully and empathetically. As with most skills, practice makes perfect. Having a genuine sense of curiosity and interest in your employee, and a mental library of thought-starting questions to call on, is a great starting point for a positive career discussion.

Always adopt an ‘ask, not tell' approach to career coaching conversations. Crafting the right questions is essential for productive career discussions. Open, probing, thought-provoking questions will encourage useful self-reflection in your employees. As discussed in chapter 8, finely tuned listening skills are essential for effective career conversations. Listening closely in the here and now will lead you towards appropriate follow-up questions.

Here are a few sample questions to help kick-start your career conversation with your employee:

  • Why do you stay? / What might lure you away? / What would keep you here?
  • What were you promised when you were recruited, and did it turn out as you expected?
  • What do you find is the most energising aspect of your work?
  • What makes you feel like taking a day off?
  • What do you like about your job? / Are your career drivers and aspirations being ...

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