The Conversations Every Manager Should Have With Their Junior Employees

March 20, 2020
Harry's team and a doggo
haryy's

When managers invest time in getting to know their junior employees, direct reports will return that contribution by advancing their skills, benefitting their career, their team and ultimately, the business. 

Knowing what drives a junior employee — as well as the challenges they face in their roles or personal life — gives managers a better sense of how they can lend assistance. Leaders at Celonis and Harry’s agree that managers should inquire about specific ways they can help their direct reports achieve their personal and professional goals and advance their careers. Employees that feel valued and supported are more likely to invest increased energy into the success of the organization, according to a 2017 study by Regent University School of Business and Leadership.

“When both parties trust each other and my team knows I have their best interests in mind, there’s value on both sides,” Amy Miller, business development team lead at Celonis, said. 

Harry’s Senior Director of People Development Brooke James recommended providing options, opportunities and choices to junior employees, rather than asking them vague, broad questions like, “What do you want?” Junior employees can’t travel down a career path they aren’t aware exists or ask for assistance they don’t know they can receive. 

 

Examples of questions to ask junior employees to get to know them on a deeper level:

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What motivates you?
  • What’s been a challenge for you and how can we help?
  • What areas do you want to improve upon?
  • How aligned do you feel with where the company is going?

 

Amy Miller
Business Development Team Lead

Managers that lead with empathy create two-sided trust within their teams. Employees trust that they’re being supported and appreciated as individuals, and leaders know that staff are giving their best effort. Miller, who has been leading teams for over five years, works to maintain this trust by keeping direct reports happy in their roles

 

What are the key conversations you should have with every junior employee?

Conversations around the ins and outs of their role and how they are progressing are obviously important, but it’s also key to understand a junior employee as a person. Having these conversations is important for the employee because they know I’m in their corner as their manager and want the best for them in the long-term. It also puts them in the mindset of wanting to continuously improve their skill sets. As a manager, you’re not just building trust, you’re also helping employees develop their skills, which in the end will translate to improved performance in their role and hopefully their future career at the company.

If they’re happy in their role, it will translate to them being successful in it.”

 

How do you ensure you and your team members get value from these conversations?

Keeping lines of communication open and continually checking in on how things are progressing professionally and personally. These discussions ensure my team members are getting value, not only from the initial conversation, but also as they continue to grow throughout their careers. 

My goal is to ensure that people are happy with what they are doing. If they’re happy in their role, it will translate to them being successful in it. When both parties trust each other and my team knows I have their best interests in mind, there’s value on both sides.

 

Brooke James
Senior Director of People Development

What’s just as important as helping employees move down a path toward professional success is checking in on their progress along the way. James said managers can boost their perceived trustworthiness by following up on the career-focused conversations that take place in their one-on-ones with direct reports. 

 

What are the key conversations you should have with every junior employee?

We have regular one-on-ones to support, coach and grow our talent. During these more intimate conversations, we encourage our managers to get a pulse check on how their direct reports are feeling. These check-ins may take more probing as junior employees are likely more hesitant to speak up. 

Additionally, it’s paramount to keep their career growth and path top of mind in every one-one-one. We recommend providing options, opportunities and choices rather than the more intimidating and broad questions like, “What do you want?” Career paths must be explained and explored for more junior staff, as they often don’t know what they want because they’ve never seen it.

It’s paramount to keep their career growth and path top of mind in every one-one-one.”

 

How do you ensure you and your team members get value from these conversations?

We recommend two strategies: first, listening intently and making our team members feel heard and valued is essential for fostering trust and vulnerability. We encourage managers to shy away from jumping to immediate solutions and instead, leaning into a space where people can be honest and simply speak their truth.

Second, actively following up and checking in after these conversations signals credibility and will likely lead to longer-term retention.

 

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