Help Employees Identify Career Opportunities


What do you do when your organizational career ladder is no longer pointed upward? What can you do when you have downsized, right-sized, and restructured to such an extent that employees are confused about possible development opportunities? What can you do when employees tend to flee from your organization first and ask questions later?

Today, organizational and human-resource leaders need to take on a new view of career management. They need to develop a partnership with their employees, working together to building skills that benefit the organization and the employee in the long term.

Leaders need to understand employee training is an investment rather than creating a flight risk.

Finally, a new view of career management will give leaders an opportunity to take a holistic view of all their organizational roles and the skills required within the larger workflow, and to identify unexpected career opportunities.

At the same time, a holistic approach to career management gives leaders an opportunity to identify the multitude of skills that exist among their employees.

Believe me, leaders are often surprised at the level of employee talent the organization was not aware of and therefore was not utilizing fully.

The following ideas will help you to take a career management point of view within your organization.

Conduct a job-skills assessment

While job descriptions have long been a standard HR tool, most do not effectively describe the skills and talents necessary for each job. Take time now to review the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for each position in your organization. Use this data to determine current gaps, future risks in the various skill areas and opportunities for development.

Develop a master chart of job families

List the job skills in chart form, look for common skills and competencies that could be transferred to various jobs and highlight them. Group similar skills into job families and determine what additional skills would enable more employees to cross train for other jobs. Create an organizational framework that outlines the functions, the job families, and the different levels in each.
Publish a competency dictionary: Each job has a set of core competencies and technical competencies at different position levels. Create a competency dictionary and make it available to your workforce. This helps employees see the progression of skills and where they can be applied. It can also provide an awareness of what training might be required to progress toward a particular goal or position.

Map out career opportunities

Develop a strategic map of opportunities and demonstrate how one job can lead to another. This is helpful for employees as they try to envision a career path. Colourcode skill similarities so employees can clearly see opportunities that might exist upward, downward, and sideways.

Conduct an employee-skills assessment

Organizations rarely conduct a complete survey of all the skills and talent in their workforce. At the very simple level, employees could complete a skills-inventory checklist or one could be acquired through interviews or a review of performance appraisal forms. Be sure to inquire about skills used outside work in hobbies or community work. These skills can often lead to new careers.

Develop a career-management philosophy

Work with all of your managers to ensure they understand and adopt the philosophy that career management is an investment in employees. Help to overcome the old fear philosophy of “train them and they will leave.” Focus on developing a partnership between employee and employer and create ideas on how this can be applied in your organization.

Provide career-management training for employees

Develop a training program that helps employees understand that personal success isn’t always an upward progression. Help them gain a sense of personal control by becoming more aware of workplace trends, and the need for continuous learning. Help employees identify their passion, talents, and motivators and discover how best to align their personal traits and career goals with the vision and objectives of the organization.

Offer career resources

While not all organizations are of the size to offer a career resource centre, leaders can provide resource lists, a library of books, and/or refer employees to private coaching with a career consultant. This is especially effective for individuals who are struggling to identify skills and motivators because most people take themselves for granted.

Apply innovative strategies

An organization no matter how small can offer some strategies to help their employees explore career options. Assign a personal career mentor, create brief job-shadowing opportunities by pairing employees with colleagues or managers for various periods of time so employees can get a feel for other jobs they may be interested in. Finally, the simple tactic of supporting time for informational interviews works well.

Incorporate careers into performance management

It’s well known that individual employees rarely set aside time for their own career development. So it is important for individuals, as well as for organizational planning, to include this in the annual performance review. Work with the employee to determine training and career goals and set a plan in place, all the while keeping in mind your organizational needs.

Barbara is President of Career Partners International – Winnipeg and is a leading and most respected authority on human Resources and executive search. She is a Certified Human Resource Management Professional (CHRP – Fellow), a Certified Management Consultant, (CMC), a Certified Coach Practitioner and holds a Master of Administration in Education. Barbara is also certified in a number of human resource and proprietary operational strategies.

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