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make “my development” the reasons employees stay

Three elements of career growth:

  1. opportunity to make a difference
  2. success
  3. fit with career aspirations

gallup discoverted that the number 1 reasons people change jobs today is “career growth opportunities.” and that reason is on the rise.

we found that 59% of millennials say that oopotunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when they apply for a job. comparatively, 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers say the same. and 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job—far more than 69% of non-millennials so say the same.

when gallup asked people across generations why they left their last job, the most common words they used were “growth” and “opportunity.” and 91% of u.s. workers say the last time they switched jobs, they left their company to do so.

from corporate ladder to corporate matrix

the traditional growth pattern has been “climbing the corporate ladder”— moving up through management with increasingly impressive titles and pay and more people to supervise.but this model is radically changing because organizations are increasingly matrixes. because of the growth of matrixes organizations, employees have many. paths to career development and options to changes teams, projects or managers.

workers today are looking for a job that is customized to their individual life situation—an extremely attractive option that doesn’t often fit the traditional corporate ladder model.

in response, organizational leaders need to expand their ideas about what “career growth opportunity” means for workers, gallup’s research and literature review on the topic suggest that these three elements are linked to employees’ perceived growth: the opportunity to make a difference, success and fit with career aspirations.

your managers can use these three elements as a guide to meaningful conversations with employees about their progress and potential. here are eight questions to get you started:

  1. what are your recent successes?
  2. what are you most proud of?
  3. what rewards and recognition matter most to you?
  4. how does your role make a difference?
  5. how would you like to make a bigger difference?
  6. how are you using your strengths in your current role?
  7. how would you like to use your strengths in the future?
  8. what knowledge and skills do you need to get to the next stage of your career?

employees develop through the discoveries they make as they perform—and as they are coached. managers should ask themselves: how can i encourage individuals to make more discoveries about themselves?

remember, different employees see growth and development different. one may see winning internal awards as career growth, while another may think getting an advanced degree is more valuable. one employee may view travel and bigger client presentations as a step up, while another may want to be a mentor.

unfortunately, many organizations still offer only one way “up”: become a manager, even if your strengths aren’t in management. some people who aren’t really cut out to be managers may do an Ok job, but they may never feel quite right managing. and this affects their wellbeing—and the wellbeing of those they manage.

gallup recommends offering ambitious and productive employees these new paths for advancement—beyond becoming a manager:

  • individualized achievement. talented people should be able to advance in an organization either as a manager or as a high-performing individual contributor. we recommend having separate tittle and pay paths for individual contributors and managers.
  • personalized development. mangers should know their workers’ aspirations. career growth conversations need to be regular and informal—not merely an agenda item to discuss during an employee’s performance review. career paths should agin with a person’s strengths and be based on their experiences and successes.
  • flexible career paths. your star employees should be part of a collaborative effort to design a career that works for them. this means different options for different stages of life, different circumstances outside of work, different interests and different personalities. for example, do career paths in your organization move at one speed, or do they allow people to slow down or speed up as their life changes? having kids, caregiving, finishing a degree and other life events can alter the amount of time and energy employees have to focus on their career path. the right career path should meet your organization’s objectives while being flexible enough to adapt to an employee’s individual strengths and as circumstances in their lives change.