As you know I am a strong advocate of Self-Management in the career. More so, I see Self-Management as a must for all employees, as you can read here. This month’s blog is about how Self-Management is not (yet) always compatible with current career practices from an organizational point of view and how you can evolve towards a Talent Culture in which Self-Management has its rightful place.
I’ve had an interesting discussion about this with my dear friend Ingrid De Backer, who recently started her own business ‘HRwheelworks’. She supports organizations in the realization of their Talent Strategy and in the development of a desired talent culture.
Ingrid shared the following dialogues from Talent Review Meetings (TRM) she facilitated:
Manager: "employee X does not have the ambition to grow, she has three small children, so no time for a 'career' ”. Facilitator of the TRM: "Have you discussed career expectations with this employee?" Manager: "that is not necessary, given that the situation is clear"
Manager: "I want employee Y to take on a new project within his field of expertise. Facilitator of the TRM: “He has indicated that he wants to expand his horizon and take on other types of assignments.” Manager: “Employee X is highly specialized and of great value for my department. I can’t run the project without him.” -> consensus among the participants in the TRM that the employee has to do the project for now. Possible different assignments are dismissed to ‘sometime later’.
Do you recognize these dialogues? Would you take the same decisions in your organization? Both decisions indicate that the aspirations of the employees are not taken into account, whether the employee has spoken up or not.
Which talent culture do you strive for in your organization? What written and unwritten rules apply to dealing with talent in your organization? The above statements and decisions determine the real talent culture of the organization, no matter what was put on paper.
IF, as an organization you propagate that careers are (also) the responsibility of the employee, and at the same time people are not encouraged or challenged to make clear what it is they want … or if they do manage to make this clear, their interest is overruled by organizational needs without consultation, ... THEN employees, especially the high performers, will leave your organization. Since these decisions are not in line with your desired talent culture, you are in fact breaking the psychological contract with the employee.
Ingrid and I come to the conclusion that HR, together with the management, has an important role to play when it comes to building a talent culture which leaves room for self-management.
Talent Review Meetings are excellent lever to give self-management its rightful place.
Some tips to realize this:
Discuss, in little groups of executives and employees, what ‘taking responsibility for your own career’ really means and why this is important, given the current labor market with its strong focus on employability.