Beyond Resume – Career Mapping In A Post-COVID World with Anthony Vaughan
Anthony’s an expert in this area, and we’re going to learn a lot.
Listening time: 24 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen, this William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Anthony on, who’s actually a friend and we’re gonna be talking about career mapping in a post COVID world. Anthony’s an expert in this in this area, and we’re going to learn a lot. So without any further ado, Anthony, do us a favor and introduce yourself to the audience.
Yeah, so my name is Anthony Vaughan, a lot of people call me AJ. And so William, you can now when you can call me AJ as well.
About myself, I guess I’ll give you the 90 seconds here. I founded a few companies early in my career, one at 19 another at 21. So from 19 to 26 I was an entrepreneur. I spent a lot of time building brands, doing a lot of great work. Made a ton of mistakes when it comes to people operations and leadership. And actually one of those mistakes ended one of my companies and I can expand on that another day possibly.
Behind the scenes started studying a ton about everything under the sun of employee experience, neuroscience, psychology, people operations, went in-house about five and a half years ago to become a Head of People. Started speaking, started a podcast, was furloughed during COVID. Started the E1B2 Collective: Employees First, Business Second, which houses about four different projects with a lot of different partners.
And our goal is to improve the world of work and I’m back at that entrepreneurial seat. I just love everything to do with employee experience and really trying to extract truth and bring that truth to the world of work
I love it, I love it, I love it. So we’ve had many conversations and you’ve expanded my horizons. So let’s first before we jump into the topic, on the employee experience, as you’ve been learning more about it, what do we get wrong in employee experience? And it’s probably multifold, but what do you think’s like the simple thing that we just get wrong?
Not enough context. I’m a big context guy, I thought about actually naming a company called “Contextee.” That’s probably a really bad name. I suck at names. But I just don’t I don’t believe we go into individuals context enough. I don’t think we individualize experiences enough. I don’t think we respect that the diverse nature of an employee, whether that’s, you know, the diversity of the way that they think, they act, they execute, where they want to be in their careers, and how they want to experience the workplace.
I don’t think managers do a great job of contextualizing their leadership styles to the communication preferences of a team they’re leading. Everything to do with concepts, I just think is where we get a lot of this wrong. I think we generalize things. I think we read headlines and blogs. And I think we try to put in place what Google or Amazon is doing within their organization from an employee experience perspective. And I think we try to take those best practices and inject it into our organization without contextualizing it to the people that we have, so.
That’s what’s interesting is, this gets me back to Zappos. When they’re really popular, and their culture was very popular, everyone tried to make their culture Zappos. It’s like, okay, work there. Barely. But, you know, the fact that you, you know, you’re not gonna be able to take it on the road. I love the, you know, highly personalized, the idea of just how do you make individualized and highly personalized, so thank you. And I know you’re studying that, and you’re learning more and more about that every day. Career mapping. Now we’re going to talk about post COVID. So we wave a wand, COVID’s done. How should practitioners think about career mapping?
They should think about it in a very simplistic way. There’s a lot of complex areas we can go and I’ll try to keep it really simple because I’m really a simple guy. I believe, quote, post-COVID you know, pre-COVID, no COVID, I don’t care what world we’re in. When it comes to career mapping. I think the number one thing that every single employer should do is really understand the goals of the individual long term their career and they should put together learning and development initiatives ibp initiatives, manager support, and just as much support as possible. To match and reach the goals of that individual employee.
And real quickly, though, and what if? What if? I mean, I don’t want to say young in my career? Hell, I’m 52 I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
What if? What if the person doesn’t know their goals?
Then you turn into a coach? And I’m a big fan of that as well. If, if William, if the employee wants that, and it’s something I’ve been. Something I’ve become a lot more excited about. And honestly, better at is, you know, with my, my most recent employer, I thought everyone thought about life the way I did, you know, I work on myself, constantly, I’m actively thinking about goals and aspirations.
And then you ran into some people that don’t think that way.
Exactly, I ran into, I’ll tell you the truth here, um, my dear mother, who raised me to be, I think, a decent human. Um, she’s very cool and great with a consistent, well-paying day-to-day job with no other adjustments, no necessary contextual needs, no path that she needs to take. She just needs to be able to pay her bills and spend time with her children. And she doesn’t really expect much or doesn’t really want much. And that’s something that a lot of people actually want.
And so that’s the answer, I guess, to your question. Which is, if you have a staff and employees that, that don’t really know where they want to go, much beyond the work that they’re doing today, you can either A, be a coach, and maybe we can talk about that. Or B if they don’t have the desire to kind of want to do more, be more or, or strategically navigate something, I think you kind of turn to a passive, a passive pinging of, Hey, I’m here for you. And we can talk about that. And you just try to make the day-to-day as contextually amazing as you can.
I love that. When we talk about career mapping, most people that have studied HR for a long time will think of internal mobility in some way. Who’s responsibility is internal mobility, or even career mapping? Is it the employee? Is it their responsibility to map out their career? Or is it the company? Or is it kind of a partnership between the two?
I think it’s both. I think so. So I have a company called Beyond Resume. And a lot of that work comes around a lot of the things that we’re talking about. Career mapping is one of the 18 categories of this thing I had that’s called the query team. One of those things is, as a professional, I believe it is your job to understand exactly to the tee, where you want to be at the end of your career. Potentially, maybe not potentially.
Or at the very least, I think you need to understand maybe where you want to go in the next three to five years? And what are the tasks and projects, the mentors, the relationships, the things that you need to be able to get to that goal? So I think that’s the work that you need to do as an employee and as a professional. And knowing that—go ahead, please.
No, no, no, no. Finish your thought.
I was gonna say, knowing that information, then I believe it’s on the organization to number one, the head of people who I think is really responsible for this, of setting the stage from a strategy perspective should be seeking to understand if that employee has information on their person. Like, do they actually know where they want to be what they want to do, etc?
Once they find out that that individual does know, then I believe it’s on the head of people to then say, okay, it is my job, it is my duty, it’s my responsibility, it’s my deliverable. To figure out how, in the next 15 years, if you want to get to x, what can we do as an organization to give you some learning moments, to give you some contextual moments, to give you some support, to give you some, some sort of support to be able to get to that inevitable goal.
So I think it’s a 50/50 mesh of, it starts with the professional, and then it starts to actually start to roll over to the responsibility of the organization, and more specifically, the head of people and direct managers and things of that nature.
So I’m gonna ask you a loaded question. And respond as you wish. But career mapping, at least historically, sounds like a privilege. It sounds like a white male thing that historically in succession planning, on the other side of this, we’ve taken the top talent or the A talent or your high performers, high potentials, and we put them off to the side. And we’ve done a lot to make sure we understand their career progression.
Which again, In my opinion, has probably been a mostly white, mostly male type of thing. Now, I’ll stop there. And first, whatever I got wrong out of that, go ahead and kill it. But where does career mapping in the future, where does, where do we get it right? Because if I’ve got it historically right, or close to right, how do we fix that in a post COVID world and get it right?
So tell me again, so I’m understanding the question is, I know, that was definitely loaded. Would. What are you saying as far as what you believe the current POV is right now?
So I think, I think when people think of career management, and I think of career mapping, I think it’s historically, it’s been the people that are the high potentials and high performers that have been coached. to, to think about me, you know, because they want to retain that talent, they’ve invested in retaining that talent, and coaching that talent, getting that talent to stay.
And so they’ve interacted with the succession plan. And so they’ve companies have taken a more active role in, in those people. And when I say those people, historically, I’m going back 100 years, you know, historically, those have been mostly white men. Okay, and if I have that, right, again, we can argue if we have that, if I have that, right. Okay, how do we, how do we blow that up? And make career mapping for everybody?
So I think that’s interesting. I think you have that right. I think, um, I think a couple of simple things. I think, number one, you shifted to the original point of view that I shared, which is, it’s not just your high potentials. Which, again, let me be on the record by stating, let me throw my former CEO cap on. I understand the business, the business case for that. Right? Like that’s something that I think a lot of HR folks that have never had a C suite level or, or a CEO level, or any other level type role, which they never understand, which is that actually behooves the brand, to pick out the high potential that is making a really big dent in impacting the bottom line. It actually behooves the brand to put a lot of resources and energy behind them. Right. Very similar to what you see in the NBA, the NFL, the MLB, etc. Right. That’s been putting a lot of effort behind LeBron James. Not so much behind—
I am interested in who you pick.
—I don’t even know of another person personally. To me, that’s kind of the punchline. Right, like right now. That’s right. No, because here’s why I believe that’s wrong. If you look at the Warriors, let’s go along with the sports theme. Look at the warriors. And for those that don’t know you have a Steph, you have a Steph, you have a Steph Curry, you have a Kevin Durant, you have a Klay Thompson really big players at the time.
What the coach also did is they put a lot of career mapping, a lot of learning and development, a lot of attention, a lot of IDP individual development planning efforts around this guy by the name of Dramon Green. He was a third-round pick, an undersized guy. Pretty slow, not really skilled or talented in any specific area. But what he was really great at was vocalizing a strategy around play leadership, other little things that were so subtle and so slight.
Now in your example, William, we would have ignored Dramon, he would have been ignored and he was not the high potential. There was nothing clear that connected them to the bottom line and the success of the team. Well, what the coach actually did is they put a lot of energy behind Dramon and Dramon actually became the number one reason why they started having success because he was the mesh in the gel.
And so I think, kind of connected to my point of view, what we can do to make it simple as across the board. There need to be IDP plans, career mapping initiatives, really contextually understanding the skills and the strengths that are there, nuanced, and micro and smaller. Not just high potentials across the board, because you never know you may have some hidden gems and Dramon Greens living inside of your org that can really make an impact for innovation, that can really make an impact on noticing things in the marketplace that they can bring up in a meeting that could really make an adjustment on the product, etc, etc. So I don’t know if that was a good answer.
Oh, that was a fantastic answer and example. Tactically, where, again post COVID, where should practitioners start career mapping? Like, give them some advice on here’s how to actually make this real post-COVID, whatever hybrid model you’re using. Here’s now how to actually make career mapping work for everybody.
For your listeners, what’s the typical size of organizations they’re working at? It ranges?
Yeah, it’s everybody.
Okay. I’m going to give some advice, try to give some advice to everybody at scale. But my background typically is for organizations no larger than five to 700. So let’s say you’re in that spot, let’s say you have let me actually, I’ll make it practical here. Because I believe number one, tangibly, tactically the head of people should be setting the strategy. So they should be setting the strategy around this. They should be saying to the 35, or 67, or their 100 managers saying, hey, what we’re going to do is we’re going to have individual one on one conversations. Not a survey, not a not an all-hands meeting, we’re gonna literally send our managers that are running teams of 10 20 30 40.
In each department, we’re gonna send you guys out via zoom, because that’s the way the world is right now. And we’re gonna have one on one conversations, not a survey, and William, you know, a lot of people have foot putting surveys out to the world, trying to collect the data, trying to collect the point of view, trying to check the temperature of the org, I want to do it reverse. We could do the survey another time, I want to have everyone go out tangibly have one on one conversations with every single direct report.
I want to get a test. I want to understand and get a post on what percentage actually have in sort of an idea of where they want to be long term within their careers. And I want to get an idea of any possibility of those that are right now that could be potentially a Dramon Green. That maybe there’s not a real clear, high potential for them in the long term. But at the end of the day, before I start ranting, I really just want to understand through those one-on-one conversations, where are we at right now, when it comes to the people in our inside of our organization that genuinely knows where they want to be, they know exactly what we can do to support them.
I want to get that information about how we can support them, I want to track that information everywhere you want to. There’s all different types of technology out here to track it. And then what I want to do as a manager, and as the head of people leading these managers, I want to make it a responsibility. A KPI, a deliverable that every single manager guides and creates individual plans for their teams to make sure that they start implementing some of the best practices around supporting their careers.
That could mean putting them on learning and development tracks. That could mean you know, creating a conceptual IVP plan. That could mean giving them opportunities to start to shadow and jump around and be a part of different parts of the business and start to taste and feel and experience different things. That could mean maybe going outside of the org and creating mentorship programs. I don’t know there’s a lot that you can do. But it starts with those one-on-one conversations. I know it’s not scalable but it’s contextual, and nuances there.
I love it. Alright, two questions before we roll out. One is, how do we know in a post COVID? world? How do we know that we’re doing career mapping correctly? Or right? How do we know? Is it metrics, is it analytics? Is it something that you’re looking for in the employee population or as a leader? You know, like, how do they know that all their efforts and programs and things that they’re doing? How do they know that they’re getting this right?
I’ll do a really simple and this is where I think the survey comes in. So I think once you do a lot of that contextual, deep, nuanced work, I think I think you put together a really comprehensive, detailed survey that has some really great questions involved in and some and all of those questions would inevitably lead to the following outcome, you know, are we doing a good job of not only hearing and understanding where you want to be long-term and short-term within your careers but do you feel like we are contextually navigating those desires and supporting you as the individual.
And whatever that data says, will give you a good understanding of how people are feeling tangibly about that. And then again, if you look at the data, you’re realizing that not a large percentage agrees that you are giving it your best shot, then that’s where you can start to have some of those more contextual conversations again, and go back to the drawing board and figure out the nuances and the reasons of why. Um so I think that’s where like to sit, the surveys come in place. The NPS scores come in place and things like that.
I love that. Okay, let’s say you know, I get your take on remote work. And then the crossroads with remote work and this hybrid model work model that no one really has figured out yet. Post-COVID, how do you see career mapping being complete being different in a remote work environment?
You know William, I may throw that back to you. You know, it’s funny. Um, I don’t have a great answer for that. I don’t have a great answer for that, unfortunately, because one of the biggest insecurities for me right now that I’m itching to kind of change. I’m not in house, you know, I’m doing a lot of project work. And I’m actually changing this. So there’s two companies that are actually, and this is another tip that I will give to anybody as well, which is I’m actually volunteering my efforts to kind of go in-house for a period of time, and be a part of someone’s world, a company’s world a few times a week, for the next level. Yeah, because I want to start, because I won’t be able to give a really good answer around the remote working situation and how that affects an organization of 1000 or 500 at scale unless I’m really in there.
I think what I’ve what I’ve learned so far from practitioners that as they’re struggling with remote work and a hybrid model, is what you said earlier. Is I think you care enough to ask the question. So as a recruit, or as a candidate, as an employee, you find out like, what are your goals, and if they don’t know that you ask them if they want to be coached in that way.
And then you contextualize your highly personalized, you individualize a plan for them, to get them to a place while they’re out there in Budapest, or Detroit, that doesn’t really matter. You still got to you’ve still got to care enough to ask and then personalize and do all of those things. So no one’s got to know. Definitely no one’s got career mapping right. But most of HR, and I think most of the executives are still trying to figure out how to go back to work, quote, unquote, back to work.
And so no one’s got that figured out. But I just wanted to see or I wanted to check to see, you know, it career mapping, when we’re all sitting, you know, in an office together, might be easier, because you could just walk down the hallway and talk to Sally, about things. Whereas opposed to Sally being in you know, Detroit or whatever.
But at the same time really, really quickly, William, popped in my mind, which I probably should have started with and said is, you know, it actually makes it a little bit easier, though. You know, in a remote, one of the biggest things around career mapping, you mentioned it earlier is the mobility work, right?
I mean, if you are trying to think of a simple example like if you’re an HR generalist, and out of nowhere, you have the opportunity to have that conversation with your direct reporting. You’re like, you know what, I think I want to get into like copywriting, right. Be a part of the marketing team.
I’ve been fascinated by Sam Parr in the Hustle, which is an email newsletter startup company out of San Francisco. I’ve been listening to their podcast, and I think it’s so fascinating. I know nothing about it. But I would love to give that a shot. I think now more than ever, being in a remote world, it takes nothing to schedule a meeting with the CMO or some of the copywriters and maybe you and your team and your staff. Have them set up a 20 minute Q&A, and have that person be able to ask some questions to really get a better understanding of if that’s something they want to get involved in.
I think before you would have had to be in the same office. You would have had to try to schedule a meeting, deal with all those different complications physically. So I think I think the remote world allows mobility work and curiosity. You know, sniffing around, seeing what the opportunities are. I think it allows it to be a little bit more nimble.
Great. I love this. Love it I love it I love it. Anthony, I could talk to you all day. Thank you so much for coming on and schooling us a little bit, and I just appreciate you.
Thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it.
All right. And for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast, I appreciate you and until next time.