Transitioning from Career Management to Career Development

Only those organizations that recognize this new reality and are willing to prioritize career development for employees will be able to attract and retain the talent they need to succeed.

Professional woman discussing career development opportunities with her employees.

In today’s business world, optimizing human potential is a critical determinant of future business success and growth. Talent is the new business capital, and creating a culture of talent enrichment has implications for both individuals and organizations:
Only those organizations that recognize this new reality and are willing to prioritize career development for employees will be able to attract and retain the talent they need to succeed.
So, how can organizations “operationalize” career development for employees? What steps can they take to integrate development processes within the traditional career management structure and thus broaden the impact on employee engagement and loyalty?
Career Development For Employees: Not just “nice to do.”
Career development can be seen by some as something nice to do but it often gets pushed down the corporate agenda as there are so many other urgent demands. An important place to start is for an organization to understand that the career development of employees is important and if it is not addressed it will become urgent. There is a real risk that talented individuals will not stay engaged with an organization that neglects to create an environment that allows them to use their skills and capabilities to optimal use.
Leaders who walk the talk.
It’s critical to have leaders in place who fully embrace career development and can act as role models for the whole business in the way they conduct their own careers and facilitate the career development of their employees. When working with a group of managers the other day on how to run career conversations, it struck me how important it is for individual employees to have access to inspirational coaches and mentors. Such individuals can offer perspective, time, wisdom and, on occasions, a reality check and can truly be co-creators with their employees, not just passive listeners.
Self-direction is key.
Leaders and managers need to be equipped with the skills to be able to have meaningful career conversations with their employees and to have confidence that their role is to facilitate thinking, ask challenging and insightful questions and, most importantly, not try to fix their employee’s careers. I am currently providing career coaching support to a senior operations director who is at a crossroads in her career and is struggling to articulate what she wants to do next and whether she wants to stay with the organization. She reports to a CFO who has tried to provide different opportunities for her but through our coaching sessions she has realized that she has to find the solution herself rather than rely on him to fix it. This may sound obvious but it has been a revelation for her. Now she is on the journey to crystallize her career aspirations and is committed to staying with the organization and utilizing the CFO’s skills to help her carve out a role that is aligned to what she truly wants.
Different paths to success.
To truly embrace a culture of career development, organizations need to be clear about what opportunities are available for individuals to develop their careers. Not all individuals are motivated by climbing the career ladder and, in reality, the traditional view of career progression only being upwards has to be challenged in the current climate. Employees must be encouraged to experiment with taking different paths, such as lateral moves, secondments both within and outside the organization and taking the lead on corporate projects.

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