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Holding the Mirror Up: 6 Practical Truths about Career Development Today


Guest Post by Karen Voloshin, DesignArounds

Whether you call it “developing a talent pipeline”, “employee growth”, or “career development”, the aim is the same: helping everyone develop and bring their best strengths and talents to the organizational table in a way that inspires extra effort and commitment.  Outpacing the competition, breakthrough innovations, more loyal customers – the potential results of development efforts are intoxicating and yet, let’s face it, a little overwhelming. What to do? Learn about 6 career development truths and how to best respond to each.

Let’s face it… We bring the work person home and the home person to work.  So…Look at the whole person.

Development is part of our lives for a lifetime – at work and outside of it. Development that focuses just on the “work” part of a human being misses the mark. Instead leaders today must take a step back and explore what success means for and the passions and interests of the whole person. When you do this, meaningful clues emerge about tapping into the full potential a person has to offer.

Let’s face it…One size doesn’t fit all.  So…Personalize, personalize.

This is and will continue to be the most diverse workforce ever experienced. It follows that development that delivers what people want and need is tailored to the preferences of the unique individuals we all are. What’s the right type of challenge and at what level? What are the conditions – the when, where, how and with whom – that make the challenge the most enjoyable?

Let’s face it…The conversation is what counts, not the checkboxes.  So…Ignore the form for now.

Pressure to comply with a process can quickly reduce development to an administrative task on a leader’s to-do list. Completing the form by the due date overshadows the needs and interests of the person. Development that goes somewhere is driven through open conversation. The form, or the written plan, is simply the physical reminder of rich dialogue.

Let’s face it…It’s time for the truth on both sides.  So…Cultivate candor.

Unparalleled access to information creates the conditions for mismatched expectations between what employees may want for their careers and what leaders can realistically deliver. When that happens, leaders need to be willing to sort misperceptions out in a direct and respectful way. Asking for and receiving feedback affords the chance for course corrections, saving both time and emotional energy.

Let’s face it…There are 24 hours in a day. Period.  So…Make it a habit.

If leaders think of development as an add-on to an already overflowing plate, it will continue to get less attention than it deserves. Those who make it a part of their day-to-day agenda will be the ones who win.

Let’s face it…The work still needs to get done.  So…Embed it.

Development must find a home in the context of meeting ongoing goals and objectives.   Every day brings coaching moments and development opportunities galore, right there on the job. It’s just a matter of tuning in and taking advantage of them.

What’s Next?

Think about it. 30, 60, 90 days from now when you pick up your own mirror, what do you want to see? A leader who just talks about developing others or one who really does it? Pick two to three of the “let’s face it” strategies and put them into deliberate practice for the next month. You’ll like what you see.

What about you? What additional realities do you face? How are you making development happen?



  1. Dear Julie,
    This is really a very good post, i like the way to present your ideas for carrier development/organizational growth/leadership strategies.. every time you keep you 100% effort to explain in different ways. however the goal is same. each and every post allows readers/followers to understand in better way. as this post concerned the bottom line is “Lets Face It” it was just amazing. sometimes i wonder how comes these legends are using a simple word to explain entire context! i really love that. yes you are correct. we have to face the day, the situation and the circumstances. no matter who we are & what is our position. we should always set an example for those who are falling behind in there carriers. One thing i strongly understand. among all these days what ever you are trying to explain and make people realize is just for one purpose. But in different ways. (Growth) I say hats off to you Julie!

    • Thanks, Praveen! I’m so glad you liked the post. The only credit I can take is for having the good sense to ask my business partner, Karen, to write it! 🙂 I appreciate our regular conversations here. Have a great weekend!

      • Praveen,
        Nice to meet you! I too am delighted you enjoyed the post. We spend so much of our lives at work that it’s so important to make our best effort to do what we love and do well. I’m glad we have a kindred spirit out there. Take care.


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