Are performance reviews career development conversations?
When we start working with a new hiring manager, one of the best ways to set us both up for success is to have an in depth conversation about their management style. We always want to know their plan for developing their team long term before we help them hire their team, so we inquire about how they will facilitate career development.
We used to hear about annual performance reviews as a primary career development tool. However, we have recently seen performance reviews evolve. Highly successful companies are increasing the frequency of performance feedback. And the most successful companies allocate resources and time to furthering their employees’ individual careers. They ask what the company and their manager can do for the complex individual whose long term vision is probably not aligned with company goals.
Why should a company care about career development?
We know that employee engagement has suffered lately, and we are also aware that engaged employees and a functional team are significant factors in a company’s success. If we want engaged, functional teams we need to create an environment of reciprocity. Is it risky? Of course. Any time you invest money in someone’s career there is a chance they will outgrow the positions available in that company and they will seek greener pastures. But when you hire highly driven people, that risk is part of the package. Because if we do this consistently, the reputation of being useful will help attract high caliber talent that we need for company success.
What is a manager’s role in career development?
A manager’s job is to attract, retain, and grow employees. When they hire someone, the manager often has a more robust network and therefore access to more high level or industry specific people than the person they are hiring. So one way the manager can develop their team is to introduce them to a wider range of potential mentors, allies, and vendors. A second way is to help their employees craft and refine their long term career vision. As an added bonus, this introspective process can help someone figure out if they are on the right team, in the correct discipline, or working for their ideal company. When an employee genuinely knows that their manager supports them, they feel more secure. This motivates them to continue to be high achievers.
At the end of the day, we have to realize that we are hiring a human being with a hierarchy of needs that intertwines somewhat with our own company’s goals. It can be a bit unnerving to take a step back from day to day task completion and spend time on an employee’s personal, long term goals. But that is exactly what it means to plan ahead. And that creates a strong, productive team.