Use Career Paths to help Employees Visualize the Possibilities

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Use Career Paths to help Employees Visualize the Possibilities


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Tom Sheehan.pngNearly half of all employees would describe their career as being stuck in neutral. In fact, according to a 2014 Global Workforce Study (by Towers Watson), 41% of employees say they must join another firm in order to advance. Even more troublesome, almost the same percentage (40%) of employees who have been formally identified as high potentials by their organization say they would need to leave their organization to advance their career.


Employees consistently rank career advancement opportunities among the top reasons why they’d join or leave an organization. This is precisely why creating tangible, visible career paths is so important.


Career paths help employees to visualize opportunities by illustrating potential movements between roles. A career path is unique to an individual and will vary depending on business needs, career aspirations and capabilities.


There are typically two types of movement that career paths are used to illustrate:


Progression — Movement to a role at the same / equivalent level as the current role; offers an employee breadth of experience.


Promotion — Movement to a job at a higher career level than the current role; requires demonstration of increased competence and additional responsibilities.


The intent of a career path is to provide a sense of what’s possible — not to chart every potential course. These illustrations serve as a very effective tool to help differentiate the organization and illuminate the career management strategy.


Even with viable career paths, your managers will likely need some training and support in order to have the ‘career discussion’ with their staff. In that same Towers Watson study, less than half (47%) of organizations say they provide their managers with career management training and tools in the form of talking points or discussion guides.


This explains why only 41% of employees rate their manager as effective in holding career development discussions. It is important for organizations to ensure that managers are trained to have effective career conversations with employees.


Regardless of whether these conversations are formally set at certain intervals or occur informally at any point in the year, managers need to be equipped with information on the organization’s career management strategy and tools. This will prepare them to ask the right questions as they guide employees through the process of developing actionable career plans.


Give me a call if you want to discuss setting up career paths at your organization.