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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Workers struggling to discuss career progression with managers


UK employees are finding it difficult to discuss their personal development desires and requirements with managers, according to a new poll.

Close to half (44.8%) of respondents to the Badenoch & Clark survey said they felt uncomfortable discussing development with their superiors. Generation Y – those aged 16 – 24 – are least likely to actively address the issue, with 58.5% saying the issue made them feel uncomfortable.

Despite this, research from Adecco Group earlier in the year found that half of workers aged 34 and under are keen to get a promotion every two years.

In the Badenoch & Clark survey, those employees reporting feeling comfortable broaching personal development with their boss cite lack of time (35.5%) as a reason the conversations don’t happen, as well as not knowing how to approach the subject and disapproval from others (16.3%).

Over half (51.8%) consider personal development to just cover standard workplace training, regular meetings with their line managers (41.6%) or appraisals (37.6%).

Just 15.2% feel the term encompasses secondments, coaching or mentoring (18.3%) and subscriptions to key publications (7.8%).

Self-teaching is also gaining momentum, with 27.7% citing it as more effective for personal development than traditional classroom training courses arranged by their employer (19.5%).

Nicola Linkleter, Managing Director of Badenoch & Clark said: “Opportunities to develop should be made clear to workers and conversations around career progression encouraged. This will increase ROI for employers as their best staff engage thoroughly with the company’s personal development programme, and actively take action to enhance their own learning as well.” 

2 Responses

  1. Karen, I agree

    and I think managing expectations and the psychological contract is crucial. Employee motivation often gets chipped away as they experience repeated disappointments that their managers do not notice their successes and they eventually succumb to a 'why do I bother?' mindset. It's a massive issue for companies — essentially the value of an employee diminishes over time unless efforts are made to sustain the psychological contract.

    With regard to training, I think many like their training to be outside the workplace because in training you often have to admit weakness before you can emerge stronger. If you are admitting weakness in the environment that will benefit from your training, it makes it harder to implement what you've learnt in your training afterwards. This is (kind of) why it's so much harder to publicly speak to friends and colleagues than it is to strangers.

  2. Matches our experience

    Interesting research that matches our own experience in the training and development field. We have found an increase in people coming to open courses (which are often sponsored by their companies) in the last few years, preferring to do their personal development away from the workplace with a mix of people. It's a huge theme in our coaching – people wanting help with how to best approach their boss or organisation regarding a promotion. or next career move. They often fear rejection or that them mentioning it will negatively impact their current position.

    On the subject of talking to their line managers, we have also found that people end up getting frustrated in their careers because they expect to be noticed and put forward for promotion and that if they are good ' they shouldn't have to ask for it', on the other side we have seen some organisations who have become almost punitive in their personal development programmes, always pushing the responsibility back to the employee rather than offering them help and support. It's a fine balance that organisations need to consider carefully if they want to grow and keep their talent.


Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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