I am passionate about continuous learning and professional development. I prioritize and protect it. While I strongly believe that each person should own their own career, it’s also important for leaders and organizations to provide professional development support if they want to retain top talent. Let’s remember that development isn’t always a straight vertical path. Providing employees with the opportunity to grow in different ways – in different functions and roles – not only supports the development of high-potential employees who may be considered key talent and/or a successor, but it may be one of the missing links to your retention strategy. People want to be developed. And if you don’t offer opportunities, another organization will.
I’m so excited to welcome Taura Prosek back to WISHRM23! Last year, she presented “Empower Employees to Lead Their Careers” (you can read the interview here). This year, her session “6 Steps to Building a Robust Career Development Solution” addresses the organizational need to develop a solution that supports internal mobility and embeds development into its talent strategies.
Q1: Tell us a little about yourself and your role with Stewart Leadership. What led you to Stewart Leadership, and which part of your job are you most passionate about?
A1: My role at Stewart Leadership primarily focuses on solutions and sales where I build new and strengthen current client relationships. What drew me to Stewart Leadership over 7 years ago was their partnership approach tailoring to the unique needs of their clients.
I am also an executive coach and career development strategist so do quite a bit of work in these areas. I’ve been passionate about career development since my role as Manager, Early Talent, over two decades ago when I facilitated hundreds of career coaching conversations.
When I’m asked, “Why would we provide career development support to our employees? Aren’t we preparing them to leave?” I confidently reply, “No, you are preparing them to stay!” I LOVE this work and view it as one of the most important benefits an organization can provide their employees today, which was the inspiration behind this presentation.
Q2: Why is building a robust career development solution so important?
A2: People often leave organizations because they don’t see options to grow and develop if they stay. Recent stats note that as high as 70% of employees say they would be forced to leave to advance their careers. This is crazy! When an organization supports internal mobility and combines this with offering career development programming and support, amazing things can happen. The benefits include retention, engagement, agility, improved employer brand, better succession planning, and more.
Q3: You mentioned that recent studies identified a gap in career development capabilities among internal talent development professionals. What is the gap, and how can organizations begin to close that gap?
A3: Gone are the days of the typical career path, thus, HR professionals must play a facilitator role in supporting the employee and their manager in a collaborative approach to career planning. HR professionals may not be traditionally skilled in the areas of career coaching, career goal setting, internal resume building, conducting skill gap analysis, interview preparation and skill practice, event networking strategies, and more. Over 24,000 talent development professionals have assessed their capabilities within the Talent Development Capability Model™ and “career and leadership development” is identified in the bottom five of the total list of 23 capabilities. So, at a time when HR professionals must play a more active role in the career space, it continues to be identified as a skill-set area that needs to be strengthened. This gap can be improved through aligning career development efforts with current talent systems and processes and upskilling HR professionals through workshops, certifications, and resources in all areas related to career.
Q4: For organizations that have never had a career development solution, where should they start and how much of their budget do they need dedicated for this initiative? How can HR professionals support a career development initiative in their organizations?
A4: Although HR professionals may lead the career development strategy internally, each employee is ultimately responsible for leading and owning their own career decisions. They simply need the skills and internal sponsorship to do this effectively. People leaders are responsible for having the important and frequent career conversations that employees are demanding today. Stewart Leadership offers a workbook called “Lead Your Career: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Achieving Professional Fulfillment and Helping Others Do the Same” for only $35 per copy. Although it is written for the individual employee to career plan for themselves, it doubles as a guide to help anyone who facilitates career conversations. The final chapter is focused on helping people leaders prepare for and hold those authentic career conversations that employees crave.
An easy first step is to identify a group of HR professionals who want to strengthen their career development skills to participate in a pilot Lead Your Career workshop with a focus on their own careers. This is a low-risk and economical way to gauge interest for expansion across the organization and there is no better way to learn a topic than by experiencing it first-hand as a user of it.
Q5: What can participants expect during your session, and is there anything that attendees can or should prepare ahead of time to maximize the discussion?
A5: Six steps will be outlined as a roadmap to follow as career development is prioritized and integrated into an organization. To prepare in advance for this session, participants can informally pulse fellow coworkers with the question, “How can we better support you and your career here?”
Think about a recent role where there were internal and external candidates on the slate for consideration. Were your internal candidates as prepared as external? When an internal candidate doesn’t interview well and an external gets the role, consider the message this sends and the cost that results in the short-term and long-term.
Q6: What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
A6: Career development is no longer an “extra” type of benefit. It’s expected. As a first step, I hope that when attendees go back to their workplaces, they prioritize gathering the voices of their key stakeholder groups. What are employees and people leaders saying about career development and internal mobility? What are key performance indicators telling you? Conduct a baseline analysis to figure out where you are today so you can put a plan together that supports helping people to grow and STAY in the future!
Q7: What is the best way for attendees to connect with you and Stewart Leadership?
A7: Please visit leadyourcareer.com and stewartleadership.com for more information about our career development solutions and services. Connect with me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/tauraprosek/, and email me directly at email@example.com.
Q8: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Wisconsin State SHRM Conference?
A8: The in-person connection at this conference can’t be beaten. This conference is filled with people buzzing in the gathering spaces and the energy is contagious! See you all there!
Taura’s session is offered virtually and in person on Thursday, October 12th from 10:15-11:30am.
#WISHRM23 #SMILE23 #HRCommunity #HRShenanigans
I met Sarah in 2019 following her session at the SHRM Annual Conference, and we ended up talking for quite a while. She has been one of my all-time favorite humans since. I was so excited to learn that she doesn’t have just one, but TWO sessions at the upcoming 2023 SHRM Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
I had the great honor of connecting with Sarah for a virtual interview to discuss her background and little bit about her sessions, as well as a lightening round to get to know Sarah a bit personally. We spoke for over an hour, with a few tangents.
Here are the details about how to get in touch with Sarah, information about her book and podcast, as well as both of her sessions, along with the highlights from our conversation. (The full interview video can be found here.)
Sarah Noll Wilson, CEO / Chief Edge Officer
LinkedIn: Sarah Noll Wilson
Podcast: Conversations On Conversations
Book: Don't Feed the Elephants
Pre-conference Workshop: Building Powerful Teams by Overcoming Avoidance and Freeing the Elephants in the Room
In-person – Saturday, June 10th, 1-5pm.
Concurrent session: There’s No Neutral in Trust: Three Key Strategies for Forward Movement
In Person, Monday, June 12th, 1:30-2:30pm.
Book signing: Monday, June 12, 2:40-3pm – by the SHRM bookstore
Q: I’m so excited to connect to talk about your upcoming sessions at the 2023 SHRM Annual Conference in Vegas! Before we dig too deep, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into leadership development and coaching.
A: The short short story of the long story is, I was a theater major who moved to Des Moines to chase a boy. That worked out. In my theater background one of my degrees in addition to performance was theater education which wasn't teaching theater but using theater as an educational tool. So that was sort of my entry point into training. Over the years I just became really passionate and interested in that dynamic between leaders and team members. I also got my master's in leadership development. Then went on to lead the leadership development efforts at [an insurance company] where we got to do some really cool and progressive stuff.
I started a company just seeing if I could do it. And now it's exciting to be past year 3 when most companies fail. We're passionate about how to make work work better for humans.
Q: You have often said that powerful leadership starts with curiosity. Tell me more about that.
A: First let's define curiosity. For me, it's the belief in the understanding that there's always things you don't know. There's always things you don't know about a situation. There's always things you don't know about another person, and there's always things you don't know about yourself. If you look at the foundations of emotional intelligence, I can't be self-aware without some curiosity. I can't regulate, I can't be socially aware. I can't adjust and adapt to people. The thing that I always say is be curious enough to ask and courageous enough to listen.
Q: Let’s talk about your preconference workshop. You’ll have 4 hours with attendees… What can they expect?
A: Dr. Teresa Peterson and I will be leading them through conversations, exercises and explorations about how they can stop feeding the elephants in their organization. It's based off of my book, Don't Feed the Elephants. And we're really going to do a deep dive into how do we understand our own avoidance, how do we start to understand, appreciate, acknowledge, assess other people's avoidance, and then what does it look like for us to step in and speak and stand with courage? What does it look like for us to help other people do the same? And also when is it okay to not?
Q: In your book, you talk about various types of elephants: avoidaphants, deflectaphants, etc. Tell us more about the avoidaphant.
A: One of the things that I became aware of when I was just really interested in learning about how to move a culture from avoidance to having conversations, was redefining this idea of the elephant in the room. And the elephant in the room often is referred to as a person, right? They're pointing at the boss and saying, “Sir, we got an elephant in the room, and that person might be causing conflict.” And they may be an actual barrier to success, that's true. But the elephant actually gets created when we avoid acknowledging or addressing it. We have to realize, the moment we don't speak up is the birth of the elephant. And so that's just a little bit of a reframing.
Q: You have a concurrent session on Monday: There’s No Neutral in Trust: Three Key Strategies for Forward Movement. What do you mean by “there’s no neutral in trust”?”
A: One of the things that we're really passionate about is helping people think about how to assess trust differently and what they need to do to close that gap. The point of the title is literally every single interaction you have with somebody, even if it's somebody you're only going to meet once, you're either increasing trust, you're sustaining trust, or you're decreasing trust. There's no neutral. You may think it's neutral because you're actually just sustaining whatever level of trust you have, but the reality is, every single interaction, whether it's an e-mail, whether it's walking past somebody in the hallway, whether that is talking to them in the break room, sending them a Slack or Teams message…. You're having some kind of impact on that trust, whether you realize it or not. And the thing that we want to accomplish on Monday is 1) to help people think about that a little bit more deeply, but then 2) to give some really specific tools, because again, we're big believers that theory is great. Tools are better.
Q: What do you hope the attendees of your sessions will bring back to their workplaces?
A: I want people to leave with more confidence and how they can help coach other people, having difficult conversations and thinking about difficult moments, how to step into that courage and also to do that for themselves. Sometimes I think we don't know where to start. And it's easy enough to say, "Well, you just need to have the conversation," but what does that look like? How do we plan recovery when we know we're going to be having a difficult conversation? I want people to feel like they have more tools to really engage people in different kinds of conversations, to help them move from avoidance to a more intentional choice of showing up. I want people to leave 1) having some reflection of I probably don't think about my relationships as much as I need to, and 2) we as an organization don't either.
The reality is there's a limited number of time and hours we have and the impact we can make is finite. We will be showing you kind of behind the scenes: This is how we approach this, these are the actual tools, here are the handouts we use. My hope is that we can give them some tools to feel really confident.
Q: What book have your read in the last 2 years that was super powerful for you?
A: Color of Emotional Intelligence, by Farah Harris and Platonic, by Marisa Franco, PhD
Q: Worst advice you were ever given?
A: People won’t take you seriously if you don’t wear a suit.
Q: Call, text, email, or in-person?
A: Depends. And an option that’s not on there… As you know, I love a good voice note back and forth.
Q: Favorite show to binge watch?
A: Futurama and Call the Midwife
Q: What song have you most recently learned on the accordion?
A: Trying to memorize My Wild Irish Rose. Golden Slippers is without question my favorite one to play.
Q: When it comes to snacks: Sweet, savory, or salty?
A: Either salty or sweet and salty – like salted chocolate caramel or chips with dip. It’s about the dip. It’s not about the chip.
Q: Late night or early mornings?
A: Late night without question. Except Saturdays – I’m up and raring to go!
Sarah and her work have had an incredible influence on me personally and professionally. I am so excited to see her in person in 4 days! I encourage you to add her sessions to your conference schedule, and make a point to introduce yourself. I am confident that she will provide you with tips that will help you have profound impact on building relationships and trust in your organization.
For more information about the #SHRM23 Annual Conference in Las Vegas on June 11-14, 2023, visit: annual.shrm.org/ It's not too late to register! Hope to see you there.