People are the most important source of competitive advantage an organization can have. So, it becomes extremely important for organizations to take care of their employees and give them opportunities to advance their careers.
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, lack of career opportunities is one of the top reasons employees say they leave an organization. A research from Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu, illustrates that top young achievers highly value training, mentoring and coaching for their career development, whereas the employers are reluctant to provide it, in the belief that they might not stay long.
In my earlier article on improving employee morale, I talked about how training is an investment employers make in their work force. When companies offer training and mentoring to their employees, they indicate that they value their people and the contributions they make. This creates attachment, loyalty and enthusiasm among the employees.
Effective career development programs and strategies can not only help reduce turnover but hopefully increase productivity and profits. Leaders can use the following guidelines while designing such programs:
1. Build open communication/ feedback channels about careers
Train both employees and managers to have healthy communications around career development. Career management should be an ongoing process and these communication channels should enable you to find common grounds between both organization’s and individual’s aspirations. Use them to create a perfect mix where both the parties can be benefited.
2. Provide career frameworks with both vertical and horizontal paths
Organizations can design career frameworks to help show potential career trajectories an employee can have. These career frameworks not only help in motivating the employees but also give milestones they can work towards for progress.
While many people would be interested in a vertical path in a career framework, organizations should provide horizontal paths as well, which would provide option for sideways movement in addition to upwards movement. For example: a talented developer may aspire to move towards product management. Then the framework should outline the path he/she can take for that and the milestones which would have to be achieved. Frameworks are great tools to avoid employees feeling as though their career progress has stalled.
3. Mentor and groom leaders from within
Mentoring is one of the most effective career development program these days. Managers should help mentor employees to develop skills which would help them progress in their desired paths on the career framework. The organization should groom promising talented individuals from within who understand the DNA of the company culture for being future leaders.
Implementing a career development program with these guidelines in mind will help in encouraging employees to advance their career with the given organization.