Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Developing career paths for employees, part of Motivating and Engaging Employees.
- There are many reasons talented employees choose to stay with your organization, even though they have other options in the market. One of the most important is opportunity for future growth and advancement. The best way to achieve this, is through Formal career planning. When employees understand that you're thoughtfully invested in their career, not just their current role, they feel more personally invested in the organization, more likely to feel positive about their association with the company, and more likely to seriously consider staying for the long-haul. The opposite is also true.
The more they feel you don't have their long-term interest in mind, the more likely you'll see voluntary turnover. Active career planning used to be reserved for only the very best employees, who are being groomed for future leadership roles. Today, career planning is considered much broader strategy that supports overall talent management. Today's workforce is very diverse in terms of age, gender, race and any other factor you can think of, and this trend will only grow stronger. Successfully engaging this reality requires an appreciation for different professional interests and needs.
The Traditional Approach to career planning was to define what's called a career path, which is a planned logical progression of jobs, usually within one profession. Some think of this as a career ladder, whereby each new job in the hierarchy consists of more complex duties and responsibilities. A path allowed an employee to know precisely what their next move would be. They had to compete for the right to be promoted, but at least they had clarity about what the position would likely be. Career ladders were a great step forward, but ultimately, were seen as too limiting and rigid.
Today, our approach to career planning is much more open and flexible. It begins with the organization utilizing various tools to understand the employee's abilities, interests, and aspirations. These include career counseling, self assessments or assessment centers, as well as mentoring programs. What results, is a tentative career path, where progress is not simply measured by climbing up a vertical ladder. Instead, a group of possibilities can be mapped out and they might include sideways or lateral moves as much as upward moves.
It's not assumed that there's a perfect answer because logically, the person's interests should lead to unique possibilities. Progressive firms today go even further. They recognize that career planning should take place within the larger context of life. These firms engage employees in discussions about how it might be possible to help them successfully envision a career, while also planning a family, or even taking time off to care for loved ones. As a result, it's not uncommon to see organizations use technology to occasionally adjust when, where, and how much we work.
Aside from technology, companies are even experimenting with other ways to serve their needs while also serving the needs of the employee, even at the executive level. For example, consider Job sharing, an arrangement whereby one role is filled by two people, each of whom works part-time. Whether the role is a CFO, or an accounts payable clerk, if the work completed is of high quality, why wouldn't you accommodate the employees and retain their talents? Overall, the benefits appear clear. In organizations where these types of approaches are used, it's not uncommon to see increases in loyalty, engagement, and retention.
Employees speak more positively about the company when communicating externally, and they work harder during hiring periods, to funnel in talented people from their personal networks. The bottom line is happier and more productive employees. To get started you have to establish your initial baseline for employee satisfaction and engagement, retention, and any relevant measures of productivity. Know the recent history very well, so you can begin to look for changes as you develop new career management processes.
Also, be sure to include human resources from the very beginning, since any formalization of career paths could have implications for the compensation system. Next, it's time to do some serious information gathering from the employee base. Instead of dictating possible paths, your goal is to use Conversations, Focus groups, and Surveys to determine what they think. You'll use this data, to establish an initial template of possibilities, across areas of the firm. The templates aren't supposed to provide easy answers for everyone, they're supposed to be an important reference point used when partnering with the employee to define their unique path forward.
It's been said in recent years that there's no more loyalty. Years ago, a person worked for a company for an entire career. Now you might have 10 different employers. That trend has been true, but the most thoughtful employers embrace the ideas we just discussed, and as a result, their average employee tenure, is anything but average.
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- Assessing employee engagement
- Providing autonomy
- Building a transparent culture
- Modeling desired behavior
- Using monetary and nonmonetary motivators
- Fostering accountability
- Developing career paths for employees<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.