How to Develop a Career Path That Works for Your Employees

3 min read
Feb 15, 2017

steps to successful career development

Some of your employees have their sights set on climbing the corporate ladder. Others are interested in diversifying their skill sets and developing new talents. Still others care most about becoming experts in the area they’re best at.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, the opportunity for career development is one of the top five things employees want out of their jobs. Still, only 25% of employees believe their organizations offer adequate opportunities for growth, a stat we uncovered in our Engagement Report. This is perhaps one of the reasons why, as Gallup reported, only 13% of employees are engaged on a global level.


Straight Shot to Improving Engagement

In order to engage your employees, you need to help them advance in their careers and meet their goals — whatever they may be. Because no two employees have the exact same idea of where they want to be five years from now, its up to managers to work with team members on an individual basis to see where each one wants to go.

Unfortunately, you’re a manager — not a mind reader. This makes it impossible for you to know what each of your employees’ unique goals and aspirations are. Unless, of course, you ask them directly.

The easiest way to develop a career path that works for your employees is by maintaining a regular conversation with them about where they want to be in the future and whether they believe they’re making progress on that goal. It’s never too early to ask your employees what their career goals are, but you may want to wait a few months until a new hire learns the ropes and understands their job responsibilities before talking about their career path.

The opportunity for career development is one of the top five things employees want out of their jobs


Setting up a Path for Successful Development

During your 1:1 meeting, tell your employee that you want to discuss their aspirations. Encourage them to brainstorm prior to that meeting so they can figure out precisely what they want to get out of their careers. Let them know that you will do whatever you can to support their growth. If someone sees themselves as managing a team one day, for example, you may be inclined to give that person a few additional responsibilities (e.g., leading a team project) so that they can develop the skills needed to succeed in that kind of a role. If an employee wants to become a world-class graphic designer, support their aspirations by sending them to relevant seminars and symposiums (assuming, of course, there’s room in the budget).

To ensure that your employees are progressing toward their goals, develop milestones that can help them get there. For example, if one of your engineers has their sights set on becoming a better writer, make it a goal to have them contribute a few posts to the company blog this quarter. That way, it’s very evident that progress is being made.

Be sure to check back in with your workers periodically to see whether they have the same goals and are happy with what they’re doing to reach them. Encourage your employees to speak with you openly if their aspirations change or they feel they’re not being supported. The more flexible and supportive you are of your workers’ professional dreams, the happier and more engaged with their work they’ll be. Everyone wins.



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