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5 Tips for Developing Career Plans for Employees

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In our previous post we stressed how important it was to create a career path for employees, in order to enhance loyalty, motivation and performance, lower staff turnover and attract new employees.

A planned progression of jobs within a particular profession is attractive on many fronts and a lack of one is regularly cited as a key reason for leaving employment, after money considerations.

But what does a career plan look like? How do you create a path through your organisation?

Start How You Mean to Go On: Understand and Engage

The place to start with a career plan is in hiring the right candidates. That does not just mean finding the most skilled people with the best experience and academic background. What are the values and vision of your company and do they align with those of the candidate?

It is useless making a career plan for someone who really wants to be in another industry or who sees you as a stop-gap.

Long-term relationships depend on mutual trust and respect, and that involves understanding each other’s values, principles, philosophies and goals. Look to hire candidates that fit with the company culture, have ambitions that your company can fulfill, and in whom you are willing to invest time and resources; this forms the bedrock of the relationship. Uncover this in the interview process and, from there, you can build the plan over time.

Show Them What’s Possible

People need to see you walk the walk. If, after each annual review, you are told that promotion is just around the corner and it never comes…well…you know the rest. It’s pretty demoralising. Employees who see others rising through the ranks, being promoted from within and being rewarded for their hard work, are motivated by this success.

People need to believe there are avenues for them to grow and that they will be assisted from the top down to do so.

Career Management and Mentoring

Companies which actively help to manage the careers of their employees consistently retain their talent better than those that don’t. The working world is changing, with new technologies helping to change expectations regarding the balance of personal and professional lives and many employees now demand more flexibility in how they work.  Managing career paths can help people meet these expectations, providing advice on how to achieve their objectives without overworking or burning out.  We saw in the news recently how a banking industry intern died as a result of overworking.

Where employer and employee want the same thing and are well-aligned in purpose and how to get there, a mentoring plan is a good idea. This can help employees understand the requirements of taking the next steps up; and the mentors are not only physical proof that career progression is possible but providers of guidance, insight, experience and moral support along the way.

Career “Ladders”

A traditional approach to providing opportunities in an organisation is via the “ladder” model. That is, if you succeed at one level you move up to the next, then the next, and so on. However, this only suits certain types of organisations – usually large ones (banking organisations being a good example).  The major downside of this is that it can be very limiting; interns or entry-level employees may not have found their true calling yet and a ladder approach takes away the opportunities to explore possible new paths. Besides, it’s difficult for many organisations to provide enough “upward” opportunities throughout a whole career. The alternative to moving upwards is staying put or leaving.

Career “Lattices”

A better model for many organisations to follow is a “lattice” approach. This allows sideways movement as well as upward progression in a career path. Lateral moves may require a bit of lateral thinking on behalf of the employee and the employer; it involves a different mindset to simply aiming for the top of the tree. When an organisation and an individual love working together and have aligned purposes, values and goals, they will find ways to continue the relationship by growing together.

Using this model can provide greater flexibility in working arrangements, the ability to customise career paths to individual requirements and multiple development paths; employees have the opportunity to branch out and add skills to their repertoire, meaning there is less chance of boredom or stagnation. The employer, of course, gets to keep talented individuals with a good knowledge of the company and its culture.

Engaging and involving employees in the above process is important; if you hire the right people and have the support mechanisms in place to help them, then understanding their ambitions will help the relationship flourish – and a relationship is what it is. Help them to map out their own career path and you will see them invest in the relationship…and into your organisation.

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