The TLDR 😉
Get more out of your team, and up-level your management with a career conversation framework that:
Builds stronger relationships between manager and employees Is suitable for all personality types and seniority levels Delivers tangible action items for immediate improvement Open ups creative and thoughtful career options for your team Creates the scaffolding for longer-term thinking for your team Energises and motivates yourself and your reports
What is a Dynamic Career Convo?
The DCC is a framework for career conversations that I’ve refined over that last 10+ years to fit all management and employee relationships. Its magic lies in the simplicity and flexibility of its design which allows for both the open-ended, thoughtful, and “why” elements of career conversations, as well as the structured, and more concrete “how” and “what” parts.
Here’s a sneak preview of just how simple the framework is:
Learn more about the process behind DCCs below, or jump to to dive in to the practical side!
The full story 🤓
Why bother with Dynamic Career Convos?
Over the last decade of managing teams, I’ve realised the most important conversation I ever have with my employees is centered around their career development.
A great career convo can unlock a tremendous relationship and a huge amount of potential in your team. A bad one however, or even just the lack of one, can be extremely deflating and lead to mistrust and ultimately losing great talent.
It is also one of the trickiest nuts to crack and one I hear other managers constantly bemoaning.
A few years ago I finally refined my technique for these chats, and came up with the Dynamic Career Convos framework.
Since then, every time I’ve used this framework with an employee, I’ve been told it was one of their favourite and most effective career conversations ever. Now I always do it within the first month of hiring a new employee to my team, and from there it informs all of our 1:1s and gives us a consistent benchmark to fall back on and revisit.
The Dynamic Career Convo framework is extremely versatile - it works across a range of roles, all different seniority levels, and across a tonne of different personalities. It also hugely widens the perspective for the possibilities of what a career conversation can achieve - it leaves space for thinking big and digging into personal motivation, while still being rooted in concrete outcomes with tangible tactics to achieve them.
How it all began: the career conversation that inspired me
A mentor of mine once asked me to complete an exercise where I could either a) write a speech from my best friend’s perspective at my own funeral or b) write my resume in 5-10 years from then.
He also asked me to write a short paragraph about three people whose careers I admired, explaining why in each case. I chose Sir Alex Ferguson, Otto Van Bismarck, and my dad - but that’s a story for another time!
Although an unusual approach, this turned out to be a revelatory moment for me. Instead of asking the obvious “what do you want to do with your career” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years” - which can be big, scary, and overwhelming questions, he offered me an alternative path. One that allowed me to use my third eye, and project into the future without feeling self-conscious, while still focusing on tangible achievements or goals that we could then work backwards from to plot a career path. It also opened my eyes to the why behind what I wanted to achieve, rather than just the what and that was extremely empowering.
This lesson stayed with me and surfaced later in my career in a really meaningful way.
Lightning Strikes!: How I came up with Dynamic Career Convo framework
Years later I was working with an employee during a career conversation, and getting stuck because she didn’t know how to verbalise what she wanted, or even what was possible, and I was having trouble coaching it out of her. We were both becoming visibly frustrated and going nowhere fast.
Then, in a flash, the exercise I did with my mentor struck me, and I turned to the whiteboard and drew up a very quick matrix. Along one side was a column indicating a goal or achievement to aim for, with corresponding columns listing the experience or skills required to reach that goal, and the type of work projects that could incorporate them. Along the other side were timeframes (short, medium, long) to pair the goals with.
Immediately everything just clicked into place, and we started filling in the boxes - the near term goals were more specific and clear, and the long term goals were aspirational and broader, but we were able to develop a pretty clear narrative and plan for what this person had to focus on to reach their desired targets.
The conversation was open and thoughtful, and ranged from the very tactical to the highly personal - we had unlocked an understanding that meant we now connected with each other that much better. I knew what she wanted and what she was motivated by, and she knew how I could help her get there.
The added beauty of this exercise is that it massively broadened our views of what a career path could look like - it was no longer linear, or restricted to her current role, it had been opened up to include skillsets, impact (regardless of position) and so forth. This created so many more opportunities and was very uplifting for us both.