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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller


A change in seasons is upon us. Summer has arrived. At the same time, more and more organizations are resuming or planning for a return to in-office work. With all of the business and personal changes that go with fewer restrictions on gathering and greater availability of vaccines (depending on where you live in the world), it may have been some time since you have carved out time for a meaningful conversation with employees about their development goals.

Frequent conversations about development are one of my favorite “no or low cost talent development” approaches because they build trust, credibility and understanding. A 2018 benchmarking report from Gartner highlights the trend of organizations moving from annual performance conversations to an “ongoing and agile” approach. While there is a difference between performance management and talent development conversations, having both on an ongoing basis rather than a static schedule is beneficial. More frequent development-oriented conversions tend to be higher quality interactions, according to Gartner, and they also help you connect employees to action learning opportunities that will accelerate their progress toward their career goals (come back for more on action learning plans next month in part 2 of the series).

Now is a great time to connect with employees about their career aspirations. The pandemic has been a time of stress and struggle, but also a time of reflection on what matters most. Set up individual time with employees to ask them about career goals. What do they want and need from their career now? Be prepared for shifts in previously expressed priorities -- whether that is stepping off an advancement track, more focused interests or an openness to more possibilities. Also be prepared to share how organizational priorities have shifted and opportunities those changes may have created for employees.

Following the conversation, work together to turn the discussion into a development plan. The plan can be something that the employee puts together and brings back for further discussion or you can co-create a plan depending on the employee’s experience and complexity of the opportunities identified.

I recognize that every status meeting likely won’t be a development-focused conversation so you might be wondering what the right frequency is for you and your team. Gartner’s research shows that annual performance reviews and development conversations are too infrequent and the output from those conversations is often neglected during the year. Plans and goals get stale, especially in periods of rapid change or growth. Quarterly conversations can be a helpful and productive frequency. This cadence allows for adjustments as business needs change and keeps development activities at the forefront. Ultimately, the right frequency is what works for you and your team to meet organizational expectations related to business performance and employee engagement.

Ready to get started having more meaningful and high impact talent development conversations? Set up those conversations with your team. If you want more support before starting these conversations, please reach out and we can find an approach that works for you and your organization whether it’s a workshop for managers or coaching for leaders struggling with this aspect of their role.

Resources for further reading:

Originally published on LinkedIn


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