The Top Development Questions to Ask Employees

The Top Development Questions to Ask Employees

Suzi Wear, Vice President of People Development & Culture at Xenium HR passes on some great tips and pertinent questions that will help you and your employees stay on the same page regarding their professional development path; one of the keys to employee retention.


In today’s employment climate, employee retention is crucial to a business’s success. In many industries, there are more jobs available than there are people to fill them, so when someone leaves a company, it often takes some time to find their replacement.

That makes the statistics we see about job-seeking and retention pretty staggering. At any given moment:

  • 81% of employees are “passive job seekers” and would consider leaving their current role for the right offer (Hays)
  • 56% of workers are planning to look for a new job in the next six months (PayScale)
  • 51% of U.S. workers overall (60% of millennials) are considering new employment opportunities (Gallup)

Lack of workplace professional development and career advancement opportunities continue to be top reasons why employees change jobs. One way you can build employee loyalty and engagement is through routine development conversations with each of your employees.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the onus is actually on employers to start this conversation. Many employees won’t feel comfortable asking about these kinds of opportunities unprompted, as they won’t want to seem ungrateful or accidentally tip off their employers that they’re looking for more outside the company, too. And without open communication from management, employees will assume advancement opportunities don’t exist.

Ideally, employees take ownership for their own success. But that doesn’t let managers and supervisors off the hook entirely. Taking initiative to identify your employees’ big-picture needs is better for your employees, as it helps them feel heard and valued, and in turn, it’s better for your employment brand.

Supervisors tend to shy away from these conversations when promotions are not in the foreseeable future, but that’s not a good reason to avoid the discussion entirely. Whether or not you have promotions or development opportunities available anytime soon, you should be talking to your employees about their drives and desires for their careers. If you don’t, someone else will.

Suzi recommends sparking the conversation with these questions:

  • Do you feel fully utilized in your current role? If so, can you identify the factors that make you feel fully utilized?
  • Please highlight your positive experiences at the company in the areas of learning, development, and growth. Are there ways we could increase that growth?
  • Can you help me understand your career progression expectations and where you would like to be in the company two years from now? Do you desire to move into a leadership role? If so, what are your expectations, ideal timeline, and concerns?

Once you know what your employees want, you are in a better position to brainstorm development opportunities and set reasonable goals with them, not for them. Then, take some time to think about what you can do now to help prepare them for a future role. Even if the employee ends up working elsewhere, you will have done the right thing by the employee and your employment brand.

Watch Episode 06 of Transform Your Workplace

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