5 thumbs up Five Benchmarks of a Powerful Career Management Strategy

Five Benchmarks of a Powerful Career Management Strategy

Are you trying to improve career management in your organisation?

Are you keen to respond to employee questions and concerns over their career opportunities? 

Are you committed to helping managers support employees with their career development?

If so, you should have a documented career management strategy that is known and understood by employees, managers and leaders.  The strategy should have the explicit backing of the senior management team. There should be an identified influential person responsible for leading and sponsoring it. 

There are five dimensions that are critical to effective career management within organisations.  These may provide a useful framework for your strategy and the support you provide:

1.  Clear definition of the organisation’s values and philosophy about career development

The definition will be specific to your organisation strategy and the context in which you operate.  Some things to think about are:

  • Addressing the needs of each employee.  Employees have different career development needs at different stages of their careers. Opportunities for information and support need to be tailored to the needs of each employee. An organisation’s career management strategy should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.
  • Linking Learning and Development with Careers.  All employees, managers and HR professionals should link learning and development with careers. For example, managers should highlight the relevance of interpersonal skills to all career routes.
  • Providing Opportunities for Experience and Experimentation.  The strategy should challenge outdated thinking that career development is all about promotions. Every employee should have many opportunities to learn about other valued roles and skills. This can be through a range of enrichment opportunities.  Possibilities include talks and videos by other employees and leaders.  Also, mentoring, secondments, assignments, networking opportunities and work shadowing schemes.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities for career development.  Employees should be proactive and take primary responsibility for their own career development. Employees will better manage their careers if they have information and support from the organisation.  To be most effective, a “career partnership” should be formed between the organisation and employee.  This will rely on active dialogue and negotiation to meet the needs of both parties.  Employees need advice, support and training in how to manage their careers.  Their line managers need training, guidance and information to support them.  HR has a clear role to play in supporting both parties and facilitating career moves across boundaries.

2.  Visible sponsorship and support from senior leaders

It is critical to get the communication right.  All levels of management need to be seen to take talent management seriously.  They need to deliver clear and honest messages to employees about their career development opportunities.

Having a senior leader articulate the value of career development is critical. And having them champion your career management strategy is a very powerful way to gain traction across the organisation.  As role models, the stories they tell of their own career development are incredibly powerful.  By taking collective ownership, they create a forum for sharing talent across the organisation.

We recommend you Identify an executive “Career Champion” who will sponsor and support the initiative. Ideally, this person will be someone willing to take on the role and they will be seen as a positive role model for managers and employees.  They will have good influence over the executive board and senior management team and be bought in to the philosophy detailed above.

Your Executive Career Champion is someone you can involve in the design and implementation as well as influencing others.

3.  Quality Career Conversations

Every employee should have opportunities for career conversations with a manager, mentor, coach or HR professional who could be internal (a member of staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level.

Although all managers should be trained to engage in career conversations, asking employees to apply for the training will help you recruit the Career Champions within the organisation.  These people will be the best people to help you design, roll-out and support career management initiatives in the organisation.

As follow up to any career conversations training, you may want to consider setting up a Career Champion network with a clear remit for support and idea sharing.  This should be overseen by someone with an HR background or the person who is leading the initiative.  The network should meet regularly and is an opportunity to review the effectiveness of career management and identify improvements.

4Career Workshop, Tools and Support

Employees should receive a clear message that they are responsible for managing their own careers.  However, they will need help in doing that so we recommend you provide them with guidance on:

  1. Taking ownership of their own careers
  2. Developing their networks and making use of the resources available to them
  3. Extracting the necessary support from their line managers and HR representatives

Support is vital to successfully embed career management into an organisation.  Here are some examples of support strategies you may put in place:

  • Career Development Circles.  You may consider setting up Peer Groups that allow employees to help and support each other put their learning into practice.
  • Mentoring Programme.  Mentors are a key resource for employees to use in managing and developing their careers. You may wish to review any existing mentoring relationships and (re-)establish ones that have faded or broken down.  You may also want to provide training for new and existing mentors.  This ensures they understand their roles and allows them to share knowledge and experience.

5.  Links between career management, learning and development, talent management and succession planning.

As you design and deliver initiatives you will identify any obstacles and barriers to career development.  Review your processes, working practices and policies and explore alternatives.  Think through the employment lifecycle, considering careers at each stage.  For example, when recruiting and inducting new employees do you make it clear that the organisation treats career development as important?  Do you promote the support available throughout the employment lifecycle?

Raising awareness of career development will help create a culture that promotes growth.  Some ideas are:

  • Circulate resources and information
  • Share individual’s career stories via articles, interviews or videos
  • Ask senior individuals to share their career story and highlight the resources and support that helped them.

Good career management is the key to employability.  It is about showing employees whatever their role and career stage, there are options available to them in your organisation.  It’s about helping them take the actions to progress and develop within their current role and beyond.

Find out more about how you can empower your employees to take ownership of their development.

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