Mental Model

Most all businesses state that their employees are their most valuable asset. A small percentage of organizations deliver on that promise through various means. At the same time, most lack a strategic mindset to develop and allocate talent that creates mutual value for the company and individual. Most professionals want to make a maximum impact and feel the mojo of loving their job, but many fail to articulate who they are and what they need to realize their personal goals and full potential. The alignment and match between an organization’s talent needs and personal aspirations present leverage for mutual value. Yet most organizations are missing the dynamic “market” of the company’s demand for talent and employees’ supply of talent. The solution to this problem is quite simple. Leadership at organizations must create a trusting environment for career conversations and articulate and broadcast job opportunities across the organization. Employees must internalize who they are, where their career is going, and what they need to develop valuable experience. The velocity of aligning the business’s purpose and the individual’s purpose is a game-changer for both parties.

The Mindset for Mutual Value

It sounds so simple and logical. Make a match between an individual’s career ambition and the purpose and needs of the organization to create mutual value. But yet, it’s rare in practice. The primary reason is simple and logical too. At the root is both parties’ lack of trust and effort to create a win-win. Managers often focus primarily on business execution and little or no time developing the talent of each unique individual. It’s my experience that most individuals cannot articulate their career strategy and needs, thereby expecting their manager to be a mind reader.

In 2008 while at Microsoft, I became curious about how this could work and the potential impact on the business and individual. I began running career strategy workshops to help individuals articulate their identity and career direction. One of the deliverables was a concise career strategy deck that provided a personal profile, career roadmap, and the areas in which they wanted to develop or deepen competency. I was fortunate to collaborate with organizations inside the company that had formal career development programs. One organization required each person to have a career deck that they presented to a small executive team during offsite conferences. Other organizations used these for a manager and employee career conversations.

As a leader, my key learning was that when you create a trusting environment that focuses on helping the individual reach their career goals, it demystifies what is often an awkward conversation into something powerful for both parties.

As an individual, my key learning was that nobody could help you if they didn’t know your story. You need to get comfortable engaging people in your journey and driving your career. Nobody is going to care more about it than you. So be proud of who you are and recognize that we all need help to get to the level.

For Individuals

The content in this framework will help you deepen your self-awareness of who you are and the life you want and articulate your career direction. Your mindset must be to convince yourself first about your direction and then quickly tell that story to engage people in a position to support you.

For Managers

I will add content to the framework on approaches I have used to engage in career strategy discussions and developing talent. Your first go-do is to develop trust with each team member.