Career Development: 100 Questions to Grow By

You may want to pull my SHRM card when I tell you this but you have to know, I don't give enough regular feedback to my staff.

In fact, days can go by without me having a conversation (feedback or otherwise) with any given member of the department. Look closely and you may find my subscribing to the leadership approach, "No yelling, screaming, blood or broken bones so all must be OK."

When I do meet with staff, I am very intentional about moving beyond the performance review and am always on the lookout for ideas on how to shift the conversation and add value. And, it almost always involves asking questions.

A resource I reviewed recently is Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, a new leadership book written by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni. The authors share their approach to career development as career development through conversation. There are three conversations, hindsight, foresight and insight, and each has a distinct purpose and set of questions.

Of the nearly 100 questions in the book, three that caught my attention are from the hindsight conversation:

  • For each position, role or job held, what parts brought you joy, energy and a sense of persistence and which led to boredom, disengagement and a sense of just going through the motions?
  • What are you known for?
  • What skills do you appreciate in others that you don't always see in yourself?

Full of useful and simple ideas, this book is a solid resource for supervisors and mentors looking for a guide to get a career conversation going or a framework for a complete series of guiding conversations.

Toss the rigid career ladder and share the benefits of hindsight, foresight and insight with your staff as you engage them in conversations that make them think.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

3 Questions You Must Ask During a Performance Review

Performance reviews. Whether you  love them, hate them, or you would ditch them in an instant "if you were in charge," bottom line is that they are a reality in a day in life of most HR professionals, supervisors and employees.

Performance reviews involve forms, goals, expectations, objective - ok, subjective - ratings and sometimes pay increases and rewards. Every system is different, yet every system is the same in that one person is assessing the performance of another.

Listen to that again.

Regardless of the system, performance reviews come down to 2 people interacting with each other and the value of that interaction falls squarely on the shoulders of the supervisor, or rater.

After supervising and rating soldiers, junior officers, employees and students for over 25 years, you'd think I'd have this down to a science now, but I don't.

Each year, I am left with the feeling that I could have done more, I could have done it better. And each year I try something different. This year, I asked everyone these 3 questions and they were very well received:

  • How do you rate yourself? Not one person directly answered the question (stinkers!) but we had good conversations about how they see themselves in their role, thier challenges, and their interests.
  • What are you doing that I am not seeing? I know I don't see everything that people do each day to make this department work so this was an opportunity for each to tell me about problems they solved, customers they served, projects they finished and anything they were proud of.
  • What is happening in the department that I am not seeing? This was more for me than for anyone else but I wanted to know what happens that they wonder, "why doesn't she just freakin' do something about this?" 

You are preaching to the choir when you begin to whine, "It's so Hard." I started this blog almost 6 years ago with the very same lament and I can tell you  - it is what it is and it never gets easier.

So quit your whining and tell me, what are you doing, or what have you done, to increase the value of your interactions with your employees during performance reviews?

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