Empowering your employees to take charge of their career in uncertain times

The steps to take to generate motivation, engagement and high performance through times of change

As HR professionals, many of us will face the difficult task of helping staff go through uncertain times. Whether these occur following a change in leadership, a reorganisation, a merger or even layoffs, the result is the same: employees can feel anxious, unmotivated, worried about their jobs, and even start to jump ship. What can you do to avoid an exodus and to ensure employees remain motivated as they navigate these choppy waters? 

This is the issue we were asked to solve for a global entertainment client, after recently going through a merger with a second global company. Both organisations had very different work cultures and processes, which led to uncertainty and fear for many employees. “Combining two, very unique work cultures into one doesn’t just happen by osmosis,” says Catherine Wilson, Senior Consultant at Let’s Talk Talent (LTT). “When everyone is anxious and concerned about the impacts of the new reality, it’s important to remind them of the fantastic opportunities that have also been created.” And that’s just what we did.

Your simple guide to making career pathways that rock

Surviving a merger or acquisition (M&A) 

Here, the challenge was a sizeable one. The impacts of the reorganisation were huge, as the two companies had thousands of employees across multiple global locations, several micro-cultures, and many different ways of working. With so much change happening at once, staff were concerned both for their current jobs, and for their future career development prospects. The result? Many employees felt burnt out and unmotivated, and some outside help was needed to re-energise everyone. As LTT came into the picture, we began by asking: how could our client help its people navigate and grow their career while the organisation was going through some drastic changes? For us, the answer was clear. We needed to empower people to take charge of their own career development. 

For more tips on creating a positive work culture, read our blog article. 

A clear focus on career development

At LTT, we believe that for people to get up and come to work every day, one of the following three factors needs to be present: 

  • Career (the opportunity to positively impact your career) 
  • Community (the people you are surrounded with at work) 
  • Cause (the feeling of contributing to a higher purpose) 

Read our blog article on how to generate motivation through Career, Community and Cause for more information. 

While an organisation is going through uncertain times, it is even more important than ever to generate motivation, and to ensure people can find job satisfaction at work. Here, we chose to focus on careers, and to demonstrate to staff that while there were indeed plenty of ongoing changes, this new reality also presented a huge number of opportunities for everyone to benefit from. 

Our approach to career progression: showing people the art of the possible 

From the start, our messaging was centred around turning uncertainty into opportunity. “There were so many new opportunities opening up for people with this merger,” adds Catherine. “But staff couldn’t see everything that was available yet. We needed them to realise that it was up to them to figure out what they wanted to do, and that the organisation would be there to support their career ambitions.” And with the entire resources of a huge global company at their disposal, the best was certainly yet to come for this client’s talent pool. 

We started by designing and delivering career sprints, open all for employees. This series of sessions was aimed at empowering people to take control of their career development, with the added benefit that attendees connected with each other and built relationships across the newly formed organisation. 

LTT provided participants with the tools needed to: 

  • Understand themselves and their personal values, motivation drivers, as well as explore their own personal brand. 
  • Boost their confidence by looking back at their achievements and milestones.  
  • Pinpoint what they love or hate doing, and what they would like to do going forward. 
  • Network effectively and learn how to audit and grow their network. 
  • Have quality career conversations with their managers. 
  • Put together an action plan showing how the organisation can contribute to their career progression, as well as practical steps to put this plan into action. 

Creating actionable career paths for staff

Phase one of this project saw the implementation of 16 cohorts, with a total of over 400 participants. Staff who attended came away with an actionable plan which included how to map out their goals, discuss them with their managers and put everything in place for the next step of their career. 

Thanks to the success of this first round, the organisation reached out to LTT to implement phase two. This has now begun, with another eight cohorts and a total of 240 participants enrolled. “With the second phase, we didn’t want to just repeat what we’d previously done. We wanted to use feedback and really build on the learnings from the initial sessions.” The career sprints were amended to create more space for discussion and reflection during the sessions, and the order was changed to get participants ready to take action as soon as the sprint ended.

Empowering staff to take charge of their career 

Of course, merging two work cultures is quite an undertaking. Here, the focus was on empowering employees to see beyond the uncertainty. New parameters were at play: these needed to be turned around and viewed not only as challenges, but as opportunities. However, doing so isn’t always easy. It requires adopting an employee-centric approach, actively listening to your people’s concerns and providing the right support. Easier said than done, of course, but Catherine has a few pointers: “Meet with your employees often. Proactively listen, gather feedback, and come up with tools to help them navigate these difficult times feeling valued, motivated and energised.” 

If you would like to implement career sprints within your organisation, do not hesitate to book a call with us. Or to find out how you could show your employees the art of the possible and empower them to take charge of their professional development, have a look at the Career pathways & development section of our website, or download our free career planning whitepaper.

Your simple guide to making career pathways that rock

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