Connected career conversations = an engaged workforce

Today’s leaders achieve far more engagement and credibility when they take part in genuine conversations with the people who work for and with them.” 1

Our recent Connected Conversations event was about thinking differently. It’s all too easy to do things because that’s what we’ve always done. Every now and then it takes a little lateral thinking to produce a fundamental shift in our outlook and approach.

In recent years HR professionals have been rethinking the performance review as a measurement of effectiveness. When did you last hear anyone say they were looking forward to their annual appraisal? Everyone dreads them, both manager and those managed and our view at 10Eighty is that we need a more employee-centred approach.

Traditional appraisal uses a carrot and stick approach, which can work in a task-orientated culture, but it’s not appropriate in most jobs in our new work environment. There is evidence that the traditional approach is demotivating and decreases levels of performance. Many successful organisations have dropped the annual appraisal in favour of periodic feedback – Deloitte, Accenture, Microsoft, Gap and Adobe among them.

Career Conversations

People not process

The idea of ‘scientific management’ became popular because it enabled managers to treat staff like widgets, a ‘one size fits all’ approach. But in the modern workplace that approach is counter-productive. Making the most of the values and skills of the team is more like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle to build a great team that works collaboratively and is committed to the aims and values of the organisation.

An annual appraisal that reduces a person’s whole year performance to a number or a rating on a form, is often an artificial, subjective and usually retrospective process. That’s not particularly useful as a basis for future planning. We need to use performance conversations that are based on what matters to the employee and what motivates them to do a good job.

A real career conversation starts with what is important to an employee, in terms of their personal and work values. Alignment between one’s values and the values of the organisation is at issue here. Without that alignment then engagement and job satisfaction are compromised and the likelihood of success in the role is much reduced. Someone with a need for social interaction at work won’t be happy alone in the office all day and, a person who needs a level of autonomy will be unhappy working for someone who tries to micro-manage them.

Positive connections

It’s also important to look at skills and strengths. What do team members love doing, how proficient or competent they are, where they want to improve – and what do they hope to achieve? To manage people well you need to understand what makes them tick, in order to make the connection between how the organisation can help them to achieve and develop as part of a high-performance team. This is a much more positive experience than the average performance review.

These connected career conversations are no soft option. They can be challenging. Sometimes there is no alignment of values – and it may be better for a disengaged employee to move on. Line managers need to be trained in using such conversations to address motivation and engagement with team members and ensure optimum deployment of resources.

A connected conversation centres on the employee as this gives their manager clarity around how to build engagement and optimise their potential. A better understanding of employee values, skills and preferences allows the construction of a framework for sculpting jobs around the right employees in the right roles.

As our recent work with DS Smith shows, if you can initiate connected conversations with all the members of the team, with all the people in the organisation, just think about the huge impact that can have on overall levels of engagement and performance.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees.

Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions.

He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy.

Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty.

Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching.

Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.

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