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Career planning and engaged employees

'Coach Kriengsak, we recently completed an employee engagement survey, and one area where we did poorly in the eyes of our staff was career opportunities," Niwat tells me. "To resolve that, we need to have more discussions with our people about their careers. I plan to do that with my 10 direct reports and I'd like to use our session today to prepare for that."

"Khun Niwat, have you had these discussions with any staff before?"

"No, I haven't, and no one ever talked with me about my career in the past either. So my experience in this subject is zero. I need a coach to educate me about the structure and substance of a career discussion."

"Certainly, though I should caution you that this is not the role of an executive coach. It's more the role of a mentor. But I will share with you my knowledge about the individual development plan or IDP, which is based on my own experience. It may or may not work for you. You have to apply it according to the context of your organisation."

He nods.

"The IDP is a process that helps facilitate the development of a career plan for each individual. Here is an overview:

Know yourself: Identify your passions, role models, values and styles. The more you understand yourself, the better you'll be able to plan for your future career.

Identify your long-term career goals. For example, you may be the chief executive in a division of a large conglomerate, and in the next three years you want to be the group chief executive.

Identify the skills the future career will require. For example, the group chief executive needs to have five core skills according to The Leadership Code by Dave Ulrich: Strategist (shaping the future), Executor (making things happen), Talent Manager (engaging today's talent), Human Capital Developer (building the next generation) and Personal Proficiency (investing in yourself).

Identify gaps that need to be filled. For example, based on the above, you discover that you have two gaps: as a strategist and human capital developer.

Identify an action plan for developing each skill.

Execute the plan: implement, monitor and modify accordingly."

"Thank you Coach. I get it."

"Great. What could go wrong if you want to use the IDP model in your organisation?"

"Well, when I look at my 10 direct reports, I see three distinct types: two of them have high potential with high ambition, six have high potential with low ambition, and two have moderate potential and no ambition. For the first group, talking about an IDP would be easy. The last group will be retiring in the next year, so there's nothing to talk about. So my concern is with the second group."


"Because they have low ambition."

"What are the reasons for that?"

"Most of them feel that rising any higher would disrupt their work-life balance. They choose their family first by staying at their current level even though they have potential to grow."

"What do they believe that?"

"I guess they observe how I and other senior leaders in the organisation live our lives."

"What do you want them to perceive?"

"I want them to perceive that you can be a senior leader and also have a well-balanced life."

Niwat pauses, then exclaims: "Coach, I have to change the way I behave first."

"That's great. How will you balance your life and work?"

"I have to be better at time management.

"I think I spend too much time on too many details."

"How will you change?"

"If I choose to spend less time on some areas such as daily firefighting meetings, I could gain 25% more time. Then I will spend that time with my family. Once people see that I have a balanced life, they will change their perception about their future careers."

"That's good," I say, but Niwat seems to be having some second thoughts.

"It sounds too good to be true."

"How can you ensure that your plan will work in real life?" I ask.

"I need to communicate with my team first. I'll tell them that from now on I will attend fewer day-to-day meetings. But I'll make the change gradually; I have to ensure that they understand my intentions. I also need to coach some staff who tend to "delegate up" by passing decisions to me when they should be making them themselves. Otherwise, I'll always be solving their problems."

"That's good."

"Thank you, Coach. We started our conversation by talking about employee engagement but ended up talking about the need to change several things. I will reflect on what we discussed today. Can we meet again next week once I've clarified my thinking?"

"That sounds good to me."

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at