8 Ways To Nurture Talent in an Uncertain Future

Career development / Culture and values / Learning and development
Phil Purver
By Phil Purver | 10th December 2020

As the host of a recent webinar ‘Carving Out Time For Your Career’ it struck me that in the current market, helping employees with career progression should be at the top of every board’s agenda.


When it comes to surviving the future, 77%[1] of CEOs cite a lack of key skills as the biggest threat to their organisation. In the context of Covid-19 restructures and decreasing recruitment budgets, retaining and making the most of internal talent has never been more critical.


But with 86%[2] of high potentials believing successful people move on within five years of joining an organisation, managers clearly have their work cut out. How can they challenge this mindset when people are busier than ever, and working remotely?


In the webinar, Sarah Hobbs of Talent and Potential had some suggestions to help employees carve out time for their career development. As a CEO, it prompted me to think about how managers can play their part.


Luckily this doesn’t have to involve extra reviews, lengthy meetings or five-year plans. Here are my top eight tips for nurturing your employees’ careers in difficult times.


  1. Be open and accommodating. In the webinar, Sarah asked participants how they were currently carving out time for their careers. Many were getting up early, juggling their schedules and tuning into webinars during their lunch breaks. While all this is admirable, it also sounded exhausting and stressful. What if managers encouraged employees to set aside time for career development within the working week? Such openness takes the stress out of career development and inspires conversations that can put a stop to itchy-feet before they head elsewhere.


  1. Make small but consistent efforts. Sarah had some great tips on how employees could make consistent use of tiny moments to progress their careers. Such focus cuts both ways. Managers can also use these moments to empower team members. Next time you have a minute to kill before a meeting, rather than small talk, why not ask a junior colleague more about their latest project or achievement? Asking questions isn’t about putting them on the spot, or demanding instant answers. A casual ‘Oh, I’d love to hear the client’s feedback when you get a moment’ invites more detail on their terms.


  1. Provide targeted advice. Sometimes colleagues will benefit from more specific advice: it’s worth pointing out opportunities to shout about achievements when they arise. Ask employees what they’d like senior team members to know about them and look for practical ways to help them to communicate this. A simple ‘don’t forget to share and comment on the company’s latest LinkedIn post, your research on that pitch helped us win the business, after all,’ can be enough. What’s more, every opportunity for a team member to shine is also an opportunity for the business to look good.


  1. Help build reputation. Based on Talent and Potential’s extensive career research, one third of jobs are found due to reputation. With this in mind, make it your business to keep up with how your team are doing. If they are attracting new business, developing their skills via training, winning awards or creating waves in the industry, be the first to congratulate them and reward their progress — before someone outside the organisation beats you to it.


  1. Create opportunities. If a team member needs help building up their reputation, encourage them to contribute in meetings — but give them notice so they have time to prepare. ‘I think everyone would benefit from hearing your thoughts on the latest project if you’re comfortable pulling some stats together. I’ll call on you during our meeting next week,’ can help employees focus and build their name.


  1. Forge alliances. In the webinar, Sarah stressed the importance of employees building alliances. As a manager, look for ways to introduce junior employees to senior management when this makes business or personal sense. A conversation that starts based on a shared sports team creates a sense of belonging that may grow into a professional allegiance too.


  1. Make the most of professional tools. When you do have a formal sit-down discussion with an employee about their career, help them make the most of this time by asking the right questions. CareerBurst can help you have effective, proactive career conversations to ensure you hold robust data about employee career aspirations, and they feel noticed and heard.


  1. Show empathy. What if, despite all your best intentions, significant career progression just isn’t a realistic prospect within your organisation at the moment? I particularly valued the advice from one webinar participant —Mark Russell — on this subject, who reminded participants to avoid getting too frustrated. It made me realise that even when managers aren’t able to facilitate a career leap, they can always show employees consideration. In this scenario, acknowledging the frustration, showing understanding, and reassuring an employee that if they sit tight, their long-term prospects are good, can go a long way.

For many, 2021 seems full of uncertainty. But as a manager you are in control of how you nurture, inspire and steady your team — investment in this area is an investment in the future.

CareerBurst is a ground-breaking digital platform that provides ideas, tools and strategies to support line managers in their efforts to provide regularly updated career support, get the best from their people and deliver ever-greater results. Start holding better career conversations, and provide targeted, tailored career support to your employees today, with a free trial of CareerBurst.

Get in touch here: https://theworkingmanager.com/say-hello/

[1] CareerBurst research carried out by Sarah Hobbs of Talent and Potential

[2] CareerBurst research carried out by Sarah Hobbs of Talent and Potential

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