Until perhaps a decade ago, career management was uncomplicated, with promotions coming in every five or ten years, fixed paths to take and an arduous climb up the metaphorical ladder.
Today, opportunities in the workplace are in such abundance that it is no longer a ladder, but a wide field out there. Consequently, organizations have a lot more to think about when it comes to helping their employees plan and manage their careers.
They need to be able to handle the change in the pace with which employees want to move on to new roles and areas. This may be a lot easier in new and smaller firms as opposed to large mature firms where roles are more fixed, and work is a lot more defined.
There are two different viewpoints that firms tend to take when it comes to career management – one set believes that an individual is solely responsible for his career development, and the other set believes that it is a shared responsibility between the firm and the individual.
One way or another, there needs to be a well defined set of processes and tools to aid the employee in career management. Here are some of them.
- Career Planning Workshops
These are common in a lot of organizations, where employees assess their interests and skills, followed by career discussions with their managers.This also holds true for managers who need to prepare to handle such discussions and provide honest feedback.
- Mentoring Programs
Companies such as Cisco, and IBM also have mentoring programs that employees can interact with senior, experienced individuals and discuss their aspirations and options for career growth.
Studies have shown that mentoring programs help in employee retention by more than 70%. These programs have become structured and employees can even interview these mentors before taking the program forward.
- All-Hands Meetings
Career management also involves openness with respect to business strategies from top management. All-hands meetings are great forums to discuss business decisions that impact jobs or new skills that need to be acquired by employees for new opportunities.
- Career Development Discussions
Career development discussions between a manager and an individual contributor can include discussions on what the company’s overall goals are, and where the employee’s personal development goals fit in with the bigger picture.
- Internal Job Forums
Organizations which play an active part in career management of an employee also have internal job forums where openings across different teams and groups are posted. This not only gives employees a clear idea of what their options within the firm are, but also help organizations groom individuals for specific roles by giving them the required exposure.
- Succession Planning
This is a very important aspect of career management, which, in many firms, is not given the importance it deserves. Jack Welch is a classic example of how succession planning can play a very important role in an organization’s success.
Welch joined General Electric in 1960, and in 1981, became the CEO of GE. He served in this position until his retirement in 2000. One of the most important qualities he possessed was the ability to groom young talent to be able to take on his role as he moved up.
Organizations need to have a well defined approach to identifying and grooming young talent through trainings, and job rotations which provide exposure.
A good approach to career management not only helps an organization realize the full value of an individual’s talent, but also promotes a healthy working environment where individual contributors give their best and grow in the true sense.
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