In recent decades, career development has seen a shift in the way it is approached. Traditionally, it was up to an organization to ensure that its employees had the skills to meet the company’s long-term goals. Now, however, employees advocate that they are—and should be—responsible for their own career development.

This shift has changed the way that organizations handle career development. Career development is viewed today as a kind of partnership with employees. It is also a key component of a company’s attraction and retention strategy. Many candidates will not consider employment with an organization unless it offers career development as a basic component of its culture.
 

 

Career development from two perspectives

Career development should be considered from the perspectives of both the organization and the employee:

  • Organization: What skills and knowledge do we require to achieve our business goals?
  • Employee: What are the skills and knowledge I think critical to my current and future career plans?

Building an organizations’ career development program

Organizations should consider two factors when putting together their career development program:

  1. The business plan
  2. Employee career paths

Clearly, an organization must consider its overall direction and goals in order to assess the competencies that they need from their workforce to be successful. It is equally important that the organization take into account an employee’s motivation to succeed as an individual.

Career development: Meeting organization and employee needs

A proven method to meet these needs of the organization and the employee involves:

  • Developing career paths that enable employees to understand their options to grow in the organization
  • Gathering the information to determine what skills they would need to achieve this

Remember, career paths can entail promotions or lateral transfers. A solid career path program requires detailed job descriptions and support through management coaching.

Identifying and updating an employee’s career plan

Each employee should have a career plan that has been discussed with their manager. Generally, this would take place during the performance review process.

The career plan includes an assessment of the “gaps” or training requirements. The career plan should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This ensures that both the employee’s and the organization’s needs and objectives are adjusted over time.

Career planning discussions

Discussions of career planning typically include the following:

  • Current job: Does the employee have the skills to meet the responsibilities of their current job?
  • Gaps: Assess the person’s current levels of competency and their future requirements. This will reveal what gaps need to be addressed to develop their skills so they can meet future job requirements
  • Future aspirations: Where does the employee see themselves in the future?  What business results do they hope to achieve?
  • Career plan: Develop a roadmap that enables the employee to acquire the skill set needed for their current job and for the future. Use a career plan template as part of the performance review process. The template should include:
    • Areas of development
    • Development goals:
      • Action steps
      • Expected completion date
      • Obstacles and solutions
      • Evaluation criteria 

Read next: Employee training, career development and startup success