Consider Life When Career Planning

Shawnee Love   •  
January 7, 2014

Managers are often asked to assist employees in their career planning.  One aspect of this planning that is woefully under represented is the kind of life the employee wants to have.  We are comfortable discussing skills, qualities and what type of work employees like doing, but their personal lives seem out of bounds.

Perhaps we avoid these topics because we don’t want to pry or we fear being considered politically incorrect, but that avoidance contributes to poor career/life decisions for employees.

We need to ask questions such as:

  1. Do you want a spouse?
  2. Do you want kids? How soon? How many?
  3. Do you have hobbies/ activities that you want to participate in?
  4. How much free time do you want/need?
  5. How is your resilience/health?
  6. How much sleep do you need to stay healthy?
  7. Do you want to travel, volunteer, go back to school?  When?  For how long?

Many employees may be uncomfortable with these questions and probably won’t have the answers at first.  Simply explain why you are asking and why the answers are important to their career choices.

I have learned that in the game of life, time and money are often at odds.  In general, the more free time you have, the less money you make.  The more money you make, the less free time you tend to have.  Interestingly, kids, spouses, hobbies, holidays, health, and fitness typically need time and money to maintain.   Fortunately, money can be stored up.  Time cannot and it seems to go faster as we age.

The most helpful career discussions are ones where managers:

  • Ask personal questions as well as career questions,
  • Help employees understand the personal impacts of their career desires, and
  • Offer career suggestions that calibrate with employees’ personal and career desires.

Give your employees the benefits of your experience by discussing the lives they want to have and suitable careers that have the potential to fit into their dream lives.