Their Career Goals, Your Strategic Vision: Connect the Dots

By Gentry Davies

It’s no secret that employees are jumping ship for more career development opportunities at an alarming rate—34% according to our independent research. But growing your team in ways that matter most to them should also impact your bottom line in ways beyond retention. 

For best results, align your employees’ career aspirations with your company’s long-term strategy. But how do you do that?


Understand Your People

Taking the time to explore what drives each person on your team will help you build empathy and trust, and the Career Drivers exercise is a powerful tool to facilitate that. Even if employees feel confident in their future career plans, going through the exercise can help you discover what they really care about and how you can better fulfill them at work. 

Strength and personality assessments also provide additional context to help managers assign responsibilities and development opportunities effectively.


Identify Where the Skill Gaps Are

A key piece of intel for any organization is which desired skills are lacking. Sure, HR can hire new blood to fill skill gaps, but the skills you’re missing may be the same ones your current employees want to develop! Occupational or transferable, determine where the gaps are and how to cultivate the team you already have. 


Communicate Company Initiatives

Uncovering each employee’s goals, skills, and drivers is only one piece of the puzzle. Managers must also clearly communicate big-picture corporate objectives, as well as how an individual’s role can ladder up to the overall strategic vision. 

And since only one in two employees knows what’s expected of them each day, there’s probably a lot of room for improvement for all of us when it comes to communication. 


Co-author Employee Goals

Employees want to be in control of their career destinies, assuming the responsibility of their own paths. Our research shows that 72% of employees feel like they already have a long-term vision for their career. But only 24% of them have specific goals and monitor their progress against them regularly. 

Use this opportunity to collaborate rather than dictate. A dismal 30% of employees agree their managers involve them in goal setting… So there’s much work to be done in this department. Development tools like Bridge can help by allowing both parties to set and assign goals and tasks.


Think Outside the Job Description  

More often than not, managers will need to be creative in how an employee’s drivers track with the company agenda. Thought starters include:

• Encourage mentorships with skilled peers on the opposite end of the org chart.

• Ask aspiring managers to dip their toes into the leadership pool by leading an upcoming team project.

• Demonstrate how some of the skills your organization needs can translate into the roles your employees really want (or at least be transferable into many roles). 



Chat Often 

Once goals have been set, tools like Bridge Employee Development Platform help all parties keep their eyes on the prize, and make any necessary adjustments between check-ins by conducting frequent progress and development conversations.

Whether they mention it or not, 79% of employees crave monthly or quarterly conversations about where their careers are headed long term.  


Hold Employees Accountable

Setting goals and tracking them is crucial to actually getting there, but there’s one additional step that may not always be so pleasant—holding employees responsible when things fall through the cracks. 

According to Gallup, only 40% of those surveyed strongly agree that their manager holds them accountable for their performance goals. These potentially awkward accountability convos can pay off big time, as those who are held accountable are 2.5 times more likely to be engaged. 


Coach to Drive Performance

The research is in: effective managers are effective coaches. Armed with what makes each employee tick, as well as their unique strengths and skillsets, leaders have everything they need to motivate direct reports in meaningful ways—engagement, retention, goal attainment, all the KPIs that really counts. Plus, accountability is easier to dish out and receive when it’s delivered in a positive, coaching manner.


Understanding what drives your employees and how these motivators can complement your corporate strategy is just one element of solid people development. Check out “The Definitive Guide to Employee Development” for a roadmap for establishing goals and then some. 

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