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The Career Development Habit

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

-Aristotle

As each new year begins, a lot is written on the subject of habits. Habits associated with health and wellness. Habits associated with mental outlook and happiness. And habits associated with greater professional success. Habits really are at the core of excellence in any arena – including career development.

For too long, career development has been treated as an event – something that happens episodically, generally on an annual basis. It’s a formal line in the sand and opportunity to connect and contract around how to help others grow. It has tended to be highly regulated and dictated, with a focus on the paperwork and processes instead of the person on the other side of the desk.

Imagine if you exercised only once each year. Or meditated annually rather than daily. Positive habits could never be built. And because the same holds true for career development, many leaders are missing an opportunity to powerfully help people (and their organizations) grow.

Authentic, sustainable, engaging development isn’t a one-and-done yearly event. It’s a daily habit of effective leaders. And it’s as simple as engaging in ongoing, growth-promoting dialogue. Those who’ve mastered it know that the career development habit boils down to watching for cues to intervene with a question.

Too frequently, people believe that career development needs to be punctuated with meetings, moves, promotions, and other formal and seemingly consequential events. But the truth is that leaders who’ve built up the career development habit do nothing more than mine the most mundane of circumstances for an excuse to demonstrate interest, probe a bit further, encourage reflection and spark insights.

Meaningful career development comes down to cultivating the habit of engaging in ongoing career conversations with others. And the tool for building that habit is questions. When was the last time you asked your employees…

  • What’s most interesting about what you’re doing these days?
  • How must our work change to better respond to customer and/or marketplace needs?
  • What kinds of problems do you want to be solving?
  • What do you want to learn or experience?

Simple questions offer profound insights and development opportunities… but only to leaders who have internalized the career development habit.  Want to become one of these leaders? The first step is to arm yourself with questions and then practice asking them. Leaders are always surprised by just how quickly their career dialogue cadence grows once they have a solid repository of questions upon which to draw.

The 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want offers strategies and questions to get the dialogue going. And, on January 15, an all-new Help Them Grow Card Deck will also be available. It includes 40+ questions as well as 7 different activities to help leaders build the career development habit.

And to celebrate our launch, I’ll send a complimentary card deck to the first five readers who share a powerful question they’ve either asked or been asked that sparked career development. Just comment here and I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address.

As the new year begins and you resolve to build new habits, including career development is a powerful way to support your employees, your organization and yourself. Happy new year!


10 comments on “The Career Development Habit

    • Julie Giulioni on

      Thanks so much, Rachel. Focusing on what people want to achieve, the kind of work they want to do, the kinds of problems/challenges they want to dive into… this is really powerful. It’s also an antidote to the old-school ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ which is totally out of sync with today’s workplace. Please email your mailing address to julie@juliewinklegiulioni.com so I can send you a set of the new Help Them Grow cards! I appreciate you sharing your perspective! Have a great weekend.

      Reply
    • Julie Giulioni on

      Thanks so much, Jill. I really like these. Energy is key to sustainable development… and finding ways to isolate, tap and expand it is a powerful strategies for leaders and employees alike. Please email your mailing address to julie@juliewinklegiulioni.com so I can send you a set of the new Help Them Grow cards! Thanks for sharing these questions and have a great weekend.

      Reply
    • Julie Giulioni on

      Love this, Leslie. Unpacking learning from formal and informal development experiences is frequently overlooked and undervalued. By helping people pause, reflect, and extract lessons, you transform activity into learning and growth. I really appreciate you taking the time to share these questions. Please email your mailing address to julie@juliewinklegiulioni.com so I can send you a set of the new Help Them Grow cards!

      Reply
    • Julie Giulioni on

      Thanks, Anji! This kind of mining the gap and determining the actions needed to move forward one’s definition of success is really at the heart of effective career conversations and career development in general. And clarifying the delta between current and future states can be a powerful motivator for change. Great addition to our list… thanks! Please email your mailing address to julie@juliewinklegiulioni.com so I can send you a set of the new Help Them Grow cards! Have a great weekend.

      Reply
    • Julie Winkle Giulioni on

      Thanks, Akshay, for sharing these questions. Certainly happiness is something to consider when it comes to career development. But what’s really interesting to me is the idea of questioning whether those happy experiences should be replicated. I’d love to learn more about your thinking. In the meantime, though, please email your mailing address to julie@juliewinklegiulioni.com so I can send along your deck of Help Them Grow cards. Many thanks for sharing.

      Reply

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