Magazine article Talent Development

Organizations & Managers Must Reassess How They View Career Development: Regardless of Whether Your Company's Program Is Traditional or Flexible, It Must Be Transparent and Supportive

Magazine article Talent Development

Organizations & Managers Must Reassess How They View Career Development: Regardless of Whether Your Company's Program Is Traditional or Flexible, It Must Be Transparent and Supportive

Article excerpt

With the speed of change sweeping through business environments, organizations increasingly need to adopt a more flexible mindset that empowers employees for career self-management. If accelerating skill development and building the talent pipeline is important, then this new mindset is critical as well.

According to Career Systems International, career growth and learning and development are among the top engagement and retention factors for employees today. Organizations are catching on to this fact and are tailoring their employee value proposition to say, "Join us because we will help you realize your potential." But is there real commitment behind this statement?

All too often, the recruiting message doesn't match the mindset of managers responsible for implementing it inside organizations. In the halls and in conversations with fellow managers, it's not uncommon to hear these types of comments:

* "We don't want employees to reflect too much about their careers, in case they want to leave."

* "Let sleeping dogs lie; don't put thoughts about career development in their head."

* "Why open a can of worms? What if everyone wants a different role after they have thought about their career?"

* "We can't have the whole organization wanting to change roles."

* "We need to check the career aspirations of the people to see if they have got it right."

These comments might reflect:

* the organization's lack of faith that people will think of leaving if they reflect on their careers

* an assumption that people don't already think of career development

* a lack of trust and confidence that we will be able to find viable win-win options for the staff and organization

* an assumption that we know what's best for their career development

* an anxiety to keep the status quo because it's predictable and controllable.

These assumptions are potentially counterproductive because they are based on the industrial model of organizing work, where work is predictable and easily managed by breaking it down to small parts. However, with the twin forces of globalization and technology, the frequency, nature, and scale of change has increased tremendously. This forces organizations to be agile and adapt quickly. New skills and know-how are constantly emerging. The top 10 jobs in demand now, such as cloud services specialist, data scientist, and digital marketing specialist, did not even exist a decade ago.

Rather than operate based on the same assumptions from the past, perhaps it is worthwhile to examine some assumptions, and consider the organization's stand on career development beyond its recruitment pitch.

Traditional vs. flexible mindsets

What are the different mindsets of organizations toward career development? For some, it's quite traditional. For others, the shift is to a more flexible view of what "career" means today (see table on page 45).

These two organizational mindsets serve different contexts. The traditional mindset is suitable when there are minimal changes in the operating environment that compels work to be done differently. The career ladder and graduating competencies remain stable and apt. In addition, there could be operational constraints or a predetermined set of experiences required for bigger subsequent roles that do not give people an option to choose a posting. This is a fixed environment.

On the other hand, the flexible mindset works better for contexts where the world is changing faster than we can plan, and control for that organic evolution becomes more efficient. In addition, human resources typically is too thinly resourced to do the heavy lifting in planning every individual's postings. This is an evolving environment.

Case study

In one open and transparent Fortune 500 company, employees are expected to drive their own careers. …

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