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Making Career Development a Habit

business woman with arms crossed and Aristotle quote
This is a guest post by Julie Winkle Giulioni, one of Inc. Magazines top 100 leadership speakers. She is also the co-author of the bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go. To learn more about developing and retaining your talent, please join us on Tuesday, April 9th for a Live Webinar where Julie will share her vast knowledge on the subject. This event is pre-approved for both HRCI and SHRM credit. Register today for “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations that Organizations Need and Employees Want“.  

For too long, career development has been treated as an event – something that happens episodically, generally on an annual basis. It’s a formal line in the sand and opportunity to connect and contract around how to help others grow. It has tended to be highly regulated and dictated, with a focus on the paperwork and processes instead of the person on the other side of the desk.

Imagine if you exercised only once each year. Or meditated annually rather than daily. Positive habits could never be built. And because the same holds true for career development, many leaders are missing an opportunity to powerfully help people (and their organizations) grow.

Authentic, sustainable, engaging development isn’t a one-and-done yearly event. It’s a daily habit of effective leaders. And it’s as simple as engaging in ongoing, growth-promoting dialogue. Those who’ve mastered it know that the career development habit boils down to watching for cues to intervene with a question.

Too frequently, people believe that career development needs to be punctuated with meetings, moves, promotions, and other formal and seemingly consequential events. But the truth is that leaders who’ve built up the career development habit do nothing more than mine the most mundane of circumstances for an excuse to demonstrate interest, probe a bit further, encourage reflection and spark insights.

Meaningful career development comes down to cultivating the habit of engaging in ongoing career conversations with others. And the tool for building that habit is questions. When was the last time you asked your employees…

  • What’s most interesting about what you’re doing these days?
  • How must our work change to better respond to customer and/or marketplace needs?
  • What kinds of problems do you want to be solving?
  • What do you want to learn or experience?

Simple questions offer profound insights and development opportunities…but only to leaders who have internalized the career development habit. Want to become one of these leaders? The first step is to arm yourself with questions and then practice asking them. Leaders are always surprised by just how quickly their career dialogue cadence grows once they have a solid repository of questions upon which to draw.

The 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want offers strategies and questions to get the dialogue going. And, in our live session on April 9th, I’ll share some additional insight that will help you unravel the connection been career development and business results. I hope you can join!




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