Career Development Never Stops For Savvy Executives



The team can always get smarter. Savvy executives constantly hone top talent. Some schooling on career development:

• Bring it up. When are managers most curious about an employee’s abilities and ambitions? Subordinates typically answer: “When they interviewed me for the job.”  So says “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go” co-author Beverly Kaye. “For many, after that original interview, that curiosity goes away,” she told IBD. Or it gets limited to annual review meetings.  Smart managers bring up the topic with employees more often. “They don’t want to wait for the once-a-year meeting,” Kaye said.

• Play to strengths. Say a staffer comments on how much fun a particular project was to complete. “Right there is a chance to learn about that employee,” Kaye said. Ask what that worker enjoyed most. The answer might reveal an ability to be maximized. “There are so many options for managers to have these quick conversations, if only they would be curious,” Kaye said.

• Look left, right. Up isn’t the only valuable career trajectory. “(Employees) can’t all get the hierarchical move they want,” Kaye said. “I think moving over is going to replace moving up.” Trying an assignment in a different department or discipline can deliver experience that’ll pay off. Top outfits help workers shift around. “(It’s) another way to help people feel successful,” Kaye said.

The remaining question for firms: How to reward lateral moves?

• Forget the trophy. “In my generation, everyone got one,” said Aaron McDaniel, author of “The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World.”  New executives in the workplace might yearn for the buzz of chasing grades and degrees. “They’re still seeking something of that structure to tell them what to do,” McDaniel said.  The first working lesson he tells his cohorts to ace: An independent approach to career development will pay off; just stop waiting for the statuette. “In order to be successful in your career, you have to take ownership of it,” he said.

• Stay open. Don’t even think the words: “It’s not my job.” Instead, welcome opportunities to stretch.

• Get over yourself. A boss, co-worker or subordinate can offer valuable insight into how to better communicate or delegate.  “Potential coaches are all around us,” McDaniel said. Connect your open mind to receptive ears.

• Hit the books. “It used to be you were trained once a year. Now employees are constantly being trained,” said ProProfs CEO Sameer Bhatia.  His firm created an online tool for creating tests and training materials.  Kiewit Corp. was such a frequent user, the construction giant asked for a fee-based version of ProProf’s free service.  “That’s when we realized what a valuable problem we were solving,” Bhatia said.  In response, ProProfs created two levels: a subscription service that keeps tests private for the client; a free approach that makes tests public as part of ProProf’s database.  More than 100,000 ProProfs tests have been taken by a million-plus people.

• Go with them. The days of getting everyone together for a seminar-style teaching session are fading. “Scheduling alone is such a pain right now,” Bhatia said.  ProProfs developed a mobile version so workers complete tests on the go.  “They want to be able to learn while they’re coming into work, while they commute,” Bhatia said.

Written By Sonja Carberry

Originally posted at