Your Company Should Do Annual Career Counseling

I believe that creating an “entrepreneur track” for employees will actually help a company retain employees longer because they are helping employees build skills necessary to go out on their own. Why leave a company that’s helping you develop your career happiness?

You can’t. Or at least not right away. That’s why companies should do annual career counseling. By giving an employee what they need, they will stick around longer.

It’s why so few people leave Google; the experience is just too good to give up. Many entrepreneurial personalities work at Google. They are smart, motivated, and talented enough to make it on their own, but they stay at Google for awhile because they are paid well and work with great people.

Your company should create an environment that will nourish a person’s needs, not deny them until they just get fed up with all the bureaucratic crap.

Starting a Career Counseling Program

Starting the career counseling program is the easy part. Just sit down with an employee and ask them questions about their future. Some of them will lie, but most of them will tell it like they feel it, so don’t be afraid to be specific.

Questions to ask them:

Company (manager): So, I thought it would be nice to have a chat about where you see yourself in a few years. What are your passions?

You (Me answering for you): Ah, I love to write, I love walking my dog, and computer graphic designing is a fun little hobby.

Company: Interesting…so if we gave you a project to design a marketing piece for us, would you be interested in giving it a try? We can’t pay you much. We can maybe pay you for 3 hours of work at your pay now, but if you could complete something in that time we’ll let you take off 3 hours early on a Friday.

You: Really?

Company: Yes.

Yes, I know this was a little too perfect of a scenario, but you get my point. It’s about learning what makes your employees tick.

Taking notes during this process is crucial. You don’t need to jot every little thing down, but the main points are a must. If you are serious about helping your employees reach their career goals then you have to be willing to give them opportunities that they are looking to tackle.

I guarantee you’ll improve retention rates. You’ll also see happier employees when you allow them to develop their skills and advance their career.

I don’t care how old you are; every employee loves someone who takes an interest in their passions. If you can give someone the opportunity to succeed, they’ll love you for it and repay the favor with hard work.

Why It Works

If a company actually listens to their employees’ ideas and implements them, then it’s a winning combination.

Imagine your first job as a teller, pizza boy, ice cream girl, paper route kid, or whatever it was…and imagine if your boss had brought you in to his office and asked you to talk about your future. Your mouth would probably drop open in surprise. You would have been so happy someone was listening.

People want others to listen to and use their ideas, so why not give them what they so desperately want?

By giving employees what they want you are fulfilling their emotional needs. An employee who feels emotionally fulfilled is less likely to leave a company. If they know their job is helping them build a career then they will feel like they’ve won the job lottery.

They’ll tell their friends and family about the good thing you are doing, which is free marketing. Hey, everyone loves free PR.

The funny thing is that this concept builds people’s strengths on both sides. The manager becomes a better leader because they understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. If the manager finds out one employee who wants to design while another wants to do copywriting, you can distribute the work in a way that makes both people happy. The employee also understands him/herself better because they are figuring out what work they are truly passionate about.


Objection 1: But if I help them discover skills that they love then they’re going to leave me faster.

Answer: They are going to build their career foundation while they are working for you. Why would they want to go anywhere else when your company offers them such great opportunities?

Objection 2: It seems like a lot more work.

Answer: A little more work, yes, but worth its weight in gold. You’ll have more productive employees who are willing to go the extra mile to make the business successful. In the long run, that means more money for your company’s bottom line.

Objection 3: My company would never go for it.

Unofficial answer: Do it anyway, but just informally. If you can just sit down and get to know your staff a little better you’ll be able to optimize everyone’s talents. You’ll look like a managing superstar once they see the results.

Bottom Line

Breaking it all down, it’s a situation that sparkles on both ends. I challenged myself to use the word sparkles and damn I made it look good!

You have a chance to make yourself and your staff more productive by bringing a personal touch that most businesses overlook.

When you become a friend to your employees and become someone who is looking to help build their career, you will notice the good Karma that you create. When and if the employee does leave, they will be more willing to help you find someone qualified to fill their spot and train them (letting you know the new person’s strengths and weaknesses). Who knows, the new person may even be a better fit.

Would you stay with a job longer if they helped build your career? How much longer would you stay? If they asked you to help outside of your typical work hours, would you feel more obligated to say yes because they helped get you on your feet?

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Image courtesy of lanuiop