Paving the way: Providing your employees a clear career path

By Robert Half on 25th July 2016

When making the journey toward a new destination — including along a career path — good directions are essential. However, managers often fail to give employees the map and “roadside assistance” they need to travel successfully from “Point A” to the desired “Point B” in the organisation. The result: Workers decide to make their own path — out the exit door.

With specialised talent already in short supply, it is even more critical to ensure your workers can clearly see their potential to advance within their current organisation. HR Magazine discusses how over 48% of British workers see no chance of career progression in their current role and goes on to say almost a third (32%) of those surveyed need more support from their manager in order to successfully progress.

This aligns quite closely with our own research where opportunities for career development (29%) closely followed work-life balance (30%) as the top reason people change jobs according to HR leaders. Among financial services executives, providing career development opportunities has also been identified as a key consideration to improving employee retention.

To give your employees the appropriate guidance and support in developing their career path  — and define a realistic timeline for getting there — follow the steps outlined below to uncover your employees career ambitions:

1. Know when and how to discuss employees’ career path

All too often, career planning discussions only begin when an issue or conflict arises at work. These conversations can be awkward and even tense, as they’re coming from a place of negativity. Don’t wait for a situation to trigger this type of chat with your team members. Instead, take advantage of times when everything is running smoothly – or better yet, when your team is celebrating an accomplishment – to start a conversation that comes from a positive place. Yearly performance reviews are good opportunities to have an in-depth discussion with workers about job satisfaction and goals.

2. Guide your employee with actions to support their career goals

Based on what they tell you in your earlier discussion, and what you already know about their professional strengths and weaknesses, you can:

  • Recommend learning and training opportunities

What knowledge and skills would the employee need in order to attain the role he or she is working toward? Are there certifications or qualifications needed? What about soft-skills such as communication or leadership qualities? A bigger question: What can your company do to help your employees earn this essential experience in a way that also benefits the business? For example, are there skills in short supply that the organisation would welcome? Another idea is to ask the employee to share his or her knowledge with others when training is complete.

  • Encourage networking

Harnessing the power of business networking can make a real  difference to your employee reaching their career goals or not. Who are the company’s key players an employee should know in order to make a quicker transition to a different type of role? Help your employee connect with others inside and outside the department who can provide valuable career guidance and industry insight. Building these relationships is dependent on the employee’s motivation, of course, but you can still help to make important introductions that could shorten the journey to the next level.

  • Establish a mentoring arrangement

Building on the above idea, is there someone in the organisation who would serve as an ideal mentor to your employee? A mentor not only can share practical knowledge, but also provide hands-on guidance and insight that will help the up-and-coming professional better understand the organisational politics and considerations when making decisions hire up the career ladder.

Tip: Find out how mentoring relationships can strengthen your company

3. Check in regularly on progress

Once you understand your team’s aspirations and do everything you can to set them up toward achieving them, follow up regularly. Individual goals and desires can change, and a lack of communication between employees and managers will lead to frustration and low morale. These touch-base conversations allow you to assess employees’ progress and also help them refine and better develop their career path over time.

As a manager, you can do only so much to help your employees realise their full potential at your firm. They are ultimately responsible for their careers. However, by showing them what steps they will need to take to reach important milestones along their desired career path, you can enhance their chances of success and build loyalty in the process.

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