Anyone who has had the pleasure of hiring staff and building out teams knows that it can be anything but, well, pleasurable. Finding the needle in the haystack is tedious, time-consuming, and, at times, mind-numbing. One bad hire can be costly, and in rare cases even cost you your business. So once you find the perfect candidate, set them up for success so that they stick around--even if that's not ultimately their plan.
Simply ask one basic question you're probably already asking: What are their career goals? But include one minor tweak that can make a major difference.
Instead of asking new hires the career goals question in the typical way, ask what they would ultimately like to do, even if that has nothing to do with their new position or employer. With this one little caveat, it can completely change the response you receive and the trajectory of your new hire's career at your organization. Of course, it also gives you the tools you need to develop an effective employee career path that motivates staff and sets them up for success.
While many are reluctant to ask for fear of what the answer might be, the reality is that not every new hire aspires to do a particular job or stay at a particular company for the rest of their life. As much as employers prefer to believe otherwise, it's an unrealistic assumption that can be damaging. Employees are left to feign interest to appease their new employer. And employers are left in the dark, unable to create a career the employee won't want to leave.
Here are five big reasons to ask this one small question:
1. It creates open communication
It opens the door to honest employee communication. By starting off on this type of footing, you set the foundation for a positive workplace relationship where an employee feels comfortable sharing their honest thoughts because they know you're OK hearing them. It might start with something as simple as asking a question about their aspirations, goals, and passions, but it fosters a relationship where a staffer feels comfortable talking to their manager more openly and honestly.
2. It helps staff feel supported
People often feel as though their employer wouldn't support them if they knew what their goals were. So they keep their goals close to their chest, which keeps their employer at bay--and at a distance. Instead, when they're asked what their goals are in relation to how an employer can help them achieve said goals, they feel supported.
3. It increases workplace satisfaction
Back in 1973, Harvard published an article titled "Why Employees Stay" that, decades later, still rings true. The study concluded that the key elements of job satisfaction are achievement, recognition, responsibility, and growth opportunities.
When people feel like the job is aligned to help them get to where they want to be, they're happier in the role. They feel supported, listened to, and understood. And by understanding where an employee wants to be, employers can help provide them with the responsibilities and opportunities to get there. In return, it helps make them feel happier in their role--even if it's not necessarily where they want to be.
4. It increases productivity
When people see that what they're doing can help them get to where they want to be, they'll be more motivated, and by extension more productive. It's the mutually beneficial process of making an employee's goal an employer's goal. It helps you better understand, recognize, and assign tasks and projects that will help give staffers the experiences that put them on the path to where they want to go.
5. It creates a positive company culture
All in all, it lends to a positive working environment where people are happy to be there because they feel like it's a step toward doing what they ultimately want to be doing--even if that's not something that exists within that company.
Managers often ask what someone's goals are, but they ask in relation to that specific organization. Ask what someone really wants to do in general. This gives you the tools to understand them better, identify them for opportunities, and set them up for success--which, as an employer, sets your organization up for success as well.