Introduction

Careers facilitate social engagement and play an important role in creating and defining meaning in our lives. Our careers help to shape our work and personal lives.

I believe everyone has a right to career satisfaction, which is a fundamental source of energy, creativity and capability. For many, however, career satisfaction can be as elusive as self-esteem. That said, when career harmony does exist, problems of the greatest complexity seem to be solved more quickly and easily. The positive impact on our lives is palpable and exciting. The payoff of better career conversations can therefore be remarkable.

In my experience, many leaders are fearful of confronting a lack of career satisfaction and its consequences, preferring to ignore the realities that surround them. Despite all that has been written and said about employees as ‘free agents', I continue to be amazed at just how many leaders still feel ill equipped and reluctant to have meaningful career conversations with their employees. The implications of employee–organisational relationships on individual career development and the co-dependencies at play cannot be understated.

Employees got the message loud and clear long ago that it was up to them to manage their own careers, but many don't know how to navigate their career pathways and receive little help from their manager or employer. I have found that many leaders lack career management and coaching skills to assist them; indeed, quite a few are fearful ...

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