From the Q-mmunity
How to have impactful career conversations through the Career Action Plan
Qualtrics’s Leadership Enablement and Development Team organized Global Career Month in October. Throughout the month, the LEAD Team provided training opportunities and resources to enable all employees to define their career paths. Two panels were held in October — the first was a Career Action Planning panel and the second was a Mentorship and Mobility panel.
In this post we will be focusing on how to get the most out of your Career Action Plan and sharing the advice from our CAP panel. Here’s a brief overview of what CAP is and what you can expect from your leaders.
Career Action Plan
The Career Action Plan (CAP) is a method to ensure our employees have every opportunity to continuously grow. It’s crucial to identify your goals and motivations in order to grow and thrive at Qualtrics. The CAP method provides managers and employees with the tools they need to align their goals with their motivations and their ‘why’.
The process begins with a Life Story — leaders meet with their team members individually and learn some of their life story. This is a great way to find out what you really value in life and your career and helps your leaders better understand who you are and what you want in life so they can better advise you.
The second step in the process is creating your Career Vision — each team member writes 3-5 visions for what they’d like their future career to look like. This can be within Qualtrics or in a totally different field. The Career Visions are meant to be your dream job if you were given the opportunity to have it.
The last step in the process is creating a Career Action Plan. Your leader takes your Life Story and your Career Visions and creates a plan to get you there. This plan includes things you can be doing in your current role, whether that’s furthering your career education or helping a team member who handles a task you might be interested in. Leaders also suggest people you can meet with who have knowledge you may need and any training available to you.
Career Action Plan Panel
This panel consisted of four leaders throughout Qualtrics giving advice to other leaders on how to have impactful career conversations with their team members. All of these leaders have experience with CAP conversations and were asked a few questions about their experiences.
- Arpana - Director, XM Strategy
- Mark - Director, Associate General Counsel
- Stephen - Associate Manager, Global Operations
- Vanessa - Manager, Solution Engineering
How have you helped your direct reports navigate their career progressions?
Stephen pointed out that this depends a lot on the individual team member:
“Some people know exactly where they want to go in life and what they want and it’s just a matter of connecting the dots to get them there. But the majority of people don’t know exactly what they want to do. This is where the Life Story and Career Vision steps really come into play. One on one meetings help with this, as it’s easier to talk through what a person values and what motivates them to narrow down their career aspirations. It’s important to ask questions like, ‘what skills do you want?’, ‘what values do you have?’, and, ‘how can you get those skills?”
Arpana hit on the importance of consistently having next level conversations:
“When I think of career progression, it’s a sum of a couple of things. One is effectiveness in role and the other is how you create that culture of development to help your people feel like they’re getting the most out of their time at Qualtrics. It’s important to understand individual aspirations, individual ambitions, and what they are naturally good at. It’s important to see people for who they really are, and CAP is a really fantastic tool to do that. What I love about CAP are the design principles: Identify the gaps, what individuals are good at, what they’re interested in, and how you can help them. From there you can create an environment for growth and help them build on their skills in order to continuously foster a path for progression.”
What do you do if you have someone on your team who has no idea where they want to go next?
“It’s totally fine. There’s no pressure to know exactly what you want to do next. It’s just a slightly different conversation as opposed to someone who knows what they want. I ask what they really like doing and what they want more exposure to and dig into what fulfills them. I use the CAP as a guide to track this and use this to help them find out what they see themselves doing.”
“Just try something out! I like to give people the opportunity to do things they don’t normally do and let them discover what they like and don’t like. It gives them something to work from and they can start to uncover bigger career ambitions. Give them the autonomy to gain expertise on something.”
What advice do you have for managers who are new to CAP conversations?
“Follow the process! Way smarter people than me have come up with this process. You don’t have to be overly rigid about going through the process, but follow the big picture — understand the person. Some people aren't comfortable with sharing their whole life story, but you can still find a way to understand what their values are, understand where they want to go, and then figure out how to bridge that gap. Trust the process - it works.”
“I really enjoy the life story piece. Leave an open space to really focus and listen to what they’re sharing in the life story and you’ll learn a lot. This is beneficial beyond just CAP in getting to know your team members.”
“Set expectations. Don’t stress about finding the perfect progression right away — there’s value in the journey of this. You don’t have to land on something specific. If you help them focus at all, that's a great success.”
“CAP is a fantastic framework for a conversation starter. It helps you keep the dialogue going and helps ensure your team members see and feel that their futures are at the forefront of your mind.”
What if your team member’s end goal is not on your team?
“Come to peace with the fact that the best role for a team member may not be on your team. Understand that if they want to go to another team, enabling them to do that is great professionally and personally. Everyone wants to be in a place where they’re contributing in their highest and best form, so recognizing that it’s not always going to be on your team can be hard but certainly healthy.”
“Sometimes your team is a stepping stone for someone in their long career ladder. There should be no hard feelings, we want to work together to get everyone working to their best ability at the place they get the most fulfillment from.”
We are grateful to our panelists for their advice, and we hope this will help leaders and their team members navigate these crucial career conversations. Our goal is always to get our employees where they want to be and where they fit best.
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