What everybody needs to know about virtual career conversations

What everybody needs to know about virtual career conversations

Virtual career conversations. Where do they sit in your list of priorities right now?

As much as we saw Coronavirus heading towards us, lockdown is horrendously disruptive. Organisations entered lockdown in different states of preparedness. Some were already au fait with remote working. Others had a bump to Earth, their hardworking IT and HR teams working flat-out to supply the necessary training, software and hardware.

Slowly we’re heading into the #newnormal and navigating the world of remote working amidst unrelenting uncertainty. Which begs the question, should career conversations really be a priority in this brave new world?

Why you MUST focus on virtual career conversations even if it’s not business as usual

Life goes on…

Isolation measures don’t put life on hold. We’re still here living our lives. Babies continue to be born and our children continue to grow up. People fall in love and out of love. Others are discovering they have long-term health problems. Many of us will lose people we care about.

In a traditional business environment, it’s easy for an emotionally astute manager to notice when a team member is quieter than usual or flushed with excitement. When you’re working remotely it’s much harder; you need to make a point of asking. Not only that, you need a foundation of trust to make your employees feel they can respond truthfully.

Business goes on too…

Just like our lives, businesses can’t be put into a state of suspended animation. The wheels keep moving and your business will move off course if you lose focus.

Your talent is there to grow your business while keeping it on track. Helping your talent stay focused and committed enough to do so takes nurture and consistency. Which is where virtual career conversations come into their own.

What’s the risk of going without virtual career conversations?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event that few of us anticipated. It reminds me of the Baz Luhrman hit, Sunscreen, which did the rounds in the late 90s;

“The real troubles in your life are apt to be the things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”.

This pandemic has thrown everything into sharp focus and forced us to reassess our lives and habits. It’s big news for digital career conversations.

Times of reflection mean time for re-evaluation. There’s good reason for January and September traditionally being the start of job-hunting season; time off over Christmas and the summer gives us the chance to reflect on our priorities. We catch our breath and think “right, now what?”

Admit it. You’ve spent time re-evaluating your finances, your habits and what actually matters. I know I have. Before all this, every week was a barrage of Stuff.

Endless appointments, commitments, clubs and tasks. Our abruptly empty diaries have left us wondering what we’ll put back into our lives #WhenAllThisIsOver.

If I’ve been feeling like this, and you’ve been feeling like this, there’s every chance your employees have been feeling like this too. Which is why you MUST talk to them about their careers.

Virtual Career Conversations = a powerful retention tool

Career conversations are a relationship builder. Not only that but they’re a crucial part of your employee retention toolkit, which is why it’s so important to make sure they’re still happening.

We know your employees are re-evaluating their lives. There’s a good chance their career choices and work-life balance are part of that.

Maybe they’ve realised how tiring their commute was. Or perhaps they recognise how much they thrived on those face-to-face client meetings. Whatever they’re thinking, it’s important for you to know. Forewarned is forearmed after all.

Your employees still want to work for a purpose and their career remains an integral part of their life. It’s just that their priorities may have shifted.

Staying in touch with those moving priorities through regular virtual career conversations gives you the opportunity to keep your high-performing employees in your business. Help them evolve their career path to one that suits their aspirations.

Prepare yourself for the chance that a star team member may choose to pursue something new. Perhaps they’ve realised that they want to become a drone pilot or a landscape gardener.

If that’s what they’ve set their minds to, there’s little you can do to keep them. On a positive note, you know they’re going and can plan around their departure.

Without that regular check-in and career-focused catch up, you’d have missed the signals.

The result? A nasty shock when they hand in their notice and a gaping gap in your team.

There are less apocalyptic outcomes. You may hear an echoing call for increased remote working or reduced hours as your employees sound out a preference for a more flexible work-life balance.

Is that something you could accommodate to keep your top talent?

Other employees may have reflected and realised just how much they thrive with the challenge they get in their roles.

How can you work with them to keep them stimulated and learning?

Keeping career conversations alive leaves the channels for discussion wide open. Don’t let temporary business disruption shut off that potential

Download our guide to Career Conversations. It’s full of facts, figures and a step-by-step action plan to help you get the most out of your employees.


But what about virtual career conversations?

There’s always been a suspicion that doing things digitally was second-best.

But as the last few weeks have shown, perhaps that was habit more than truth.

Having been a 100% digital company from the start, the Career Matters team know that physical distance doesn’t need to affect progress or relationships. In many respects, digitally based conversations encourage deeper intimacy with your team.

Digital conversations give you access to people’s lives in a completely new way.

Think about it. How many of your employee’s homes had you seen before the middle of March?

Nowadays we’re seeing each other’s homes and hearing (and possibly seeing) each other’s pets, partners and kids.

A year ago, we’d have been mortified at other people seeing this level of authenticity. Now it’s just reassuring.

Not only does this digital window let you access the reality of your employees’ lives, it puts you closer to their fundamental motivations.

The veneer of cars, clothing and office politics matter less when you’re working remotely and unable to leave your home.

What matters more is “am I enjoying my job?” and “what could I change to enjoy it more?”. You can drill down into these questions far more easily when you’re not surrounded by the emotional clutter of regular working life.

These digital conversations also give you the chance to demonstrate that oft-neglected leadership trait of empathy.

Empathy, according to Dr. Brené Brown, is “feeling with people”.

Check-in and ask how things are going. Make sure your employees feel their career is on track. It shows you care. It helps you reinforce that basis of trust – and without trust your relationship with your team is going nowhere fast.

Ready to embrace digital career conversations?

Embrace digital career conversations and you may well find they become the most honest career conversations you’ve had. We’re using our collective experience to deliver free online masterclasses for you and your teams.

Want to make the most of your digital career conversations? Sign up to our next masterclass here.

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