Maximizing Potential | Being the Captain of Your Career

Brenda Harrington |
July 08, 2021

The world is entering a new economy, and a new era regarding the world of work. As we Emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and begin returning to the office, many employees are evaluating their careers and professional circumstances. They are not just thinking of opportunities for potential advancement, but also discipline and career changes.

In a recent study conducted by McKinsey, nearly half of respondents surveyed indicated that they plan to reconsider the kind of work they do because of the pandemic.* The study went on to reveal that people who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay with their current employer.

In our last blog post we talked about the benefits of encouraging employee career planning, especially when it comes to exploring the types of roles and careers individuals are best suited for. In many of the recent employee satisfaction and engagement surveys we’ve been involved with, one of the top areas of concern among respondents has been dissatisfaction with organizational support for career planning and career development.

It is important for employers to play an active role in supporting individual career planning efforts. Employees need to know that in addition to their professional contributions, they are also valued as individuals with unique interests and goals. There are steps employers and managers can take to encourage employees to be proactive about managing their own careers.

  • Career development conversations

    In addition to regular check-in conversations, engaging in discussions about career development helps to keep professional aspirations top of mind, and identify opportunities to align career interests more closely with day-to-day activities. When employers and managers prioritize, and demonstrate interest in discussions about individual career development, it sends a message to employees that thinking about, and preparing for what’s next is encouraged.

  • Access to informal learning and development

    Opportunities for learning and development outside of formal training courses can provide a great means for employees to gain new experiences and provide a new source of career inspiration. This can take place in several different ways, including organized job rotation programs, job shadowing or mentoring. Each of these provides the opportunity for an employee to learn more about other roles and possible career paths that are open to them and encourage broader thinking about individual career prospects. Encouraging employees to raise their hand when an opportunity of interest arises can be one way of sending a positive message about the organization’s position regarding individual career development.

  • Create professional development and succession plans

    Transparency regarding career paths that exist within your organization will allow everyone to set realistic goals. Although this may not always translate to longevity, it does permit everyone to develop clear expectations and plan accordingly. It also helps the organization and employees to focus on succession planning as a component of learning and development activities to help cultivate an internal talent pipeline. Even when advancement opportunities are limited for an employee with interests beyond an organization’s purview or scope, he/she may be able to contribute to the training of his/her successor in preparation for an eventual transition.

    It is time for employers and employees to conduct different conversations about work. Beyond questions about “what’s in it for me?”, employees representing many different sectors and disciplines are becoming increasingly concerned about serving a purpose and having impact. This will require a significant shift for organizations and leaders focused on conventional approaches to the employer/employee relationship and performance metrics.

    Interested in learning more? We would love to set up a conversation with you.

    To start a conversation about how we can support your learning and development needs in the virtual environment, please send a message to [email protected], or call +1-703-723-6509.

    *https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/help-your-employees-find-purpose-or-watch-them-leave

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