One clear difference between a “one-man” business and a world-class organization is how employees feel about their future in the business. Are there opportunities for growth and development? Can they make progress beyond their current roles, and if they can – how?
Business leaders who understand human psychology appreciate that it is important to create the right structures around how employees build their careers in your organization.
This firstly implies that working in your organization is not just about a job – it is about a career. Business owners who create this mindset through well laid-down career management policies and procedures are able to attract and retain better quality employees.
If you want to set your organization on the path to greatness, then you should consider the following key actions in managing your employees’ careers:
#1: Define Career Progression:
As soon as employees join your organization, and perhaps even before they do, they should get a sense of the different levels of responsibility and leadership that exist in the organization.
You should have a document that defines each level and the general level of responsibility that comes at each level, and possibly the general level of education and experience required to perform at each level.
Employees can now aspire for higher levels of responsibility and leadership in your organization and see clearly that their work is beyond just a job but is indeed a career.
#2: Discuss Career Goals:
As part of your periodic feedback sessions with your employees and managers, you should talk about their career growth and aspirations within the context of your career progression framework.
Encourage them to set targets for progression for themselves, and then coach them with ideas and strategies to help them achieve their goals. Keep showing your employees what the future holds for them in your organization, and soon they will begin to see a future in your organization for themselves.
#3: Offer Mentoring:
Once you observe that an employee is making good progress towards the next level of responsibility in your organization, begin to spend time mentoring such a person.
Tell them stories from your own previous leadership transitions, give them books and resources that could help them hone their strengths and improve in their areas of weakness. Give them feedback and encouragement, so that they are well prepared for the transition.
#4: Share Information:
In some cases, career management may also involve preparing people for lateral moves within your organization, i.e. moving from one role to another, on the same career level.
For example, one of your Teaching Assistants may be interested in working as an Administrative Assistant, or a Class Teacher may be interested in becoming a Subject Specialist.
To help people see the opportunities that exist in other parts of your organization, and be encouraged to make lateral moves, you should provide and share information about other departments and units within your organization. Have sessions that encourage people to talk about their jobs, use inter-disciplinary teams for special projects and encourage job rotations and swaps from time to time.
#5: Encourage Career Changes:
Encourage people to move from one part of your organization to another as long as vacancies exist and the employees are prepared to develop themselves to function effectively in these roles.
If for example someone approached me in a Customer Service role and said he wanted to move to marketing and sales, I will start by encouraging him to start doing some marketing and selling in his current customer service role, and learn as much as he can about sales and marketing through personal development and engaging with his colleagues that are already in that role.
Also, when people do seek to make a transition, take time to find out their reasons for wanting to change, and help them see that moving roles should not be used to escape from their current challenges. Finally, when the transition happens, support employees in new roles with more mentoring and teaching to help them succeed.
It would be absolutely amazing if employees in your organization can see their jobs as long-term careers. This way you can get higher levels of concentration and commitment and retain really good employees in your burgeoning world-class organization. One way to achieving this is by paying attention to these principles and practices for effective career management.