Career Development Begins with Care™

This guest blog post by Julie Winkle Giulioni celebrates the September 18 launch of her book with Beverly Kaye, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.  Julie has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She consults with organizations to develop and deploy innovative instructional designs and training worldwide. You can learn more about Julie’s consulting, speaking, and blog at

Have you ever noticed that the first four letters of the expression ‘career development’ spell ‘care’? Coincidence? I think not.  Because even beyond words on a page, care is at the very core of authentic and effective development.

Unfortunately though, care seems to be a casualty of today’s systematized, organized, schedule-driven world. When it comes to career development, managers follow the instructions that are handed down. Boxes are checked and forms are submitted. When compliance is high, the process is deemed a success. Yet everyone is surprised when employees continue to report low job satisfaction, waning engagement, and a feeling of being underutilized.

What’s missing? What could move the needle on these important measures? Care.

Employees need to care enough to own their development. The days of someone else watching out for your career have given way to a more organic, liberating, and self-directed environment in which individuals are behind the wheel. It demands a willingness to think deeply about one’s values, strengths, and passions and to translate those into a definition of career success. It also demands a commitment to investing time and energy - some of it outside of the workplace - to generate momentum toward that definition. It demands that employees care.

Managers need to care enough to learn about their employees - who they are, what they love, where they’re going and why. This requires being present with people and being willing to connect regularly on a human level - even briefly. It requires them to meld a heightened sensitivity to organizational and business dynamics with a healthy dose of creativity. This allows them to support others in generating meaningful ways to learn and develop new skills… right within the context of work that needs to be done. But it requires that managers care.

Organizations must care enough to engineer an environment where development is valued. At work every day, hundreds of signals telegraph what’s important - and what’s not.  Who’s recognized. What gets mentioned or ignored. Where executives focus their time and attention.

Organizations committed to career development are intentional about how they choreograph those signals. Learning is prioritized. Leaders take an active interest in others through mentoring relationships. People are promoted from within. Breadth and cross-department experiences are encouraged. These signals elevate in importance of career development to a level that gets everyone’s attention. That’s what it looks like when organizations care.

When we can move past the artifacts of development (the forms, skills inventory assessments, and annually scheduled meetings), there’s the potential to tap into genuine interest, attention, and concern. There’s the potential for care…. and that’s where career development all begins.

Do you care enough to comment? How would you like to see care for career development play out in your organization?

Art:  Room to Grow by Valerie Lorimer



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