Before you start implementing career development plans for your employees, or ask one of your team members to embark in a personal development plans, you have to sit with yourself (and your managers, and the board), and be honest about a very simple fact.

Are you ready to commit to helping your people to potentially change role, job and company?

This is a major scare for most leaders. They struggle to accept the fact that somebody might one day move onto biggest thing, a more interesting role, or even a more successful organisation.

But even if you are among those who fear people leaving, there are very good reasons why you should go ahead and be serious about helping them develop their careers.

First of all, whether you are or not involved, they are going to take care of it, and it might turn out to be a whole lot worst if your company is just a passive spectator. In a particularly unclear time for my development, I had asked my bosses to help me navigate the next steps. They were not responsive, hiding behind a “you can be whatever you want to be”, and eventually I took the lead. First by making a decision that should have been made more carefully, and then by leaving the company.

Then, the idea that people will stay in the job for more than a bunch of years is nowadays highly unrealistic. In the US, the median number of years a worker stays with a company is 4.3, and the pace at which people change job in certain sectors and companies (even the most successful ones) is quite amazing. How to motivate them to stay just a bit longer than your competitors’? Well, certainly not by feeding them shallow performance reviews and promises of promotions into jobs they’ll later find out they do not care about.

Finally, you might easily end up realising that by actually developing your people, you will give them a reason to stay with you longer. There are not so many companies out there that do that seriously, and yours could be a quite big competitive advantage in the search for talents, for a pretty long time.

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