As everyone in Human Capital Management knows, career planning has seen a swing in the way it is approached. Conventionally, it was up to an employer to guarantee that its employees had the skills to meet the organization’s long-term goals. However, today, employees themselves advocate that they are responsible for their own “next steps” in professional growth. Companies need to view employees as consumers, and a #1 element on their shopping list is Learning & Development (L&D) opportunities.
This swing has changed the way that organizations manage L&D and career planning. In 2018, career development is regarded as a partnership with employees and a key component of a company’s attraction and retention strategy. Many candidates will not consider employment with an organization unless it offers a documented L&D career development as a basic component of its corporate culture.
Career planning should be viewed from the eyes of both the employer and the employee:
- Employer: What technical and business skills do we require to achieve our business goals?
- Employee: What are the skills that are critical to my current and future career plans?
Two factors that drive career planning and subsequent L&D programs:
- The company business plan
- Employee career track
Without a doubt, an organization must consider its highest-level direction and goals in order to calculate the workforce competencies demand for success. However, it is vital that the company weigh an employee’s personal motivation for their own success.
A proven method to meet these needs of the company and the employee involves:
- Developing career and training tracks that enable employees to understand their options to grow within the company
- Collecting the information to determine what skills they need to achieve that growth
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.
Discussions of career planning can include:
- Role: Does the employee have the skillset to meet the responsibilities of their current position?
- Gaps: Assess the employee’s current levels of competency and possible future requirements.
- Growth: Where does the employee see themselves in the future? What business results do they hope to achieve?
- Track: 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 detailed development goals (action steps, expected completion date, obstacles and solutions, and evaluation criteria). Remember, career tracks can involve promotions or lateral transfers. A solid career track program requires detailed job descriptions and support through dedicated and cohesive L&D training.
Mindfully designed, an L&D career plan is a win-win for employers and employees. Viewed as a strategy, it maps out the employees’ aspiration for growth and development, as well as the support the organization can provide, guiding the opportunity for the employee to grow his or her career.
There is a serious rose-colored glasses point to address. Regardless of the hiring manager’s good intentions, promising or creating a contract with an employee that guarantees that the company will provide training is not a recommended practice. Certainly, state that the company will offer appropriate learning and development opportunities, but that the company growth, economic circumstances, priorities, and goals will have an impact on the employee’s anticipated developmental path, promotions, and career goals.