Written by Jan Jaben-Eilon Tuesday, October 30 2012
Snapshot: Beverly Kaye, co-CEO of Career Systems International
Dr. Beverly Kaye is an internationally recognized authority on career issues and on retention and engagement in the workplace. She is also the author of the recently published “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.” The book provides practical advice for managers who want to motivate and retain their employees. Kaye suggests frequent, short conversations with employees about their career goals – and this book lists specific suggestions for managers on how to do that.
As founder and co-CEO of Career Systems International and a best-selling author on workplace performance, Kaye and her team have worked with a host of organizations to establish cutting-edge, award-winning talent development solutions. Her first book “Up Is Not the Only Way” foresaw the effects that leaner, flatter organizations would have on individual careers and the subsequent need for workers to take charge of their own careers. She developed learning solutions and systems for managers and employees to work together to help employees achieve their developmental goals. In a companion best-seller “Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want At Work” she shows employees how they can find greater satisfaction in their current work lives.
Womenetics: For which types of employment are your career development suggestions best suited?
Beverly Kaye: The ideas in “Watch Them Grow” apply to any leader in any industry of any size. They are the basics of what managers can do in order to hold impromptu conversations with their direct reports. There is something in here for everyone who wants to keep their talented employees.
Womenetics: How important is retention of employees in an economy where there are so many qualified unemployed?
Kaye: Managers who make the mistake of thinking that employees will stay put because of the economy or that “there is plenty of talent out there, why worry?" will find themselves facing serious consequences. Talented people do have choices, and they will leave an organization rather than stay where they are not challenged and not appreciated.
Womenetics: You encourage managers to guide employees with their career development. What percentage of managers do you think actually do this?
Kaye: Alas, judging from our experience and the “alas” stories I hear from human resources leaders, I'd say maybe 30 percent!
Womenetics: You explain that there are three types of conversations managers should have with employees: hindsight, foresight and insight. Can you explain what you mean?
Kaye: Hindsight requires that an individual consider their strengths, weaknesses, interests and values; it also requires that they check out their self-perception with others. Foresight requires that we look out and determine the changes that are happening so that we can apply that information to our work and our careers. Insight is the sweet spot between hindsight and foresight. It asks us to list the possibilities for our career and the routes we will take to get us there.
Womenetics: Do some managers hesitate to help the careers of their employees because they are afraid these employees will want their jobs?
Kaye: Absolutely! Alas!
Womenetics: In some ways, aren’t you suggesting in your book that managers need to be therapists?
Kaye: Absolutely not. All we are suggesting is that managers give attention to their people, value them, learn about them, and consider the breadth and depth of what they have to offer. The key skill here is curiosity.
Womenetics: How did you get into your line of work?
Kaye: I was always interested in the subject of careers, and when I had to choose a dissertation topic at UCLA, I selected to study how organizations developed their talent (or not). This led me to build the theory which, to this day, grounds me.
Kaye: When I was young, all I thought a "girl" could be was a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. I went to a teacher's college and then realized I wanted to do something different from everyone else. I went to George Washington for my master's degree in college administration.c= I became a student personnel "dean" for several years. This nourished my interest in leadership development and organizational development.
Womenetics: Who has been most influential in your life?
Kaye: My parents. My Dad taught me that EQ (emotional quotient) was as important as IQ and showed me how to "win friends and influence people." My mother taught me the art of authentic listening.
Womenetics: Is this book directed only at managers or anyone who wants to grow?
Kaye: Although it is written to managers, as I speak on the subject more and more I realize that it is really filled with key tips, wonderful questions and techniques that work for anyone anywhere.
Womenetics: What keeps you awake at night?
Kaye: Everything! I worry about the next quarter; I worry about the next speech. I worry about the health of my organization. I worry about my friends and family. I'm not easy on myself!
Womenetics: What do you do for fun?
Kaye: I love breaking bread with friends, swimming laps in the summer and skiing in the winter.
More advice on keeping your employees happy:
“If bad meetings were a virus, the Surgeon General would declare a state of emergency in most organizations,” says Michael Wilkinson. Learn how you can stop this epidemic.
We've heard about the value of diversity time and time again, but what about inclusion? Shirley Englemeier argues that this strategy is the new competitive advantage to improve business' bottom lines.
Monique Honaman and her partners are redefining what "coaching" means. With their GUIDE appraoch, they give business leaders the tools to help their employees grow.
Jan Jaben-Eilon was a founding staff writer of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Since then, she has been the international editor of Advertising Age magazine and has written for such publications as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Journalism Review, and Consumer Reports. She is the author of soon-to-be-published (There is) Life After Cancer. Jan and her husband have homes in Atlanta and Jerusalem.