Career Development

Key Factors for Successful Career Development

Over time, many organizations have incorporated strategic plans and farsighted strategies into their management practices. One strategy that has received considerable positive acceptance in the business and corporate communities is career development.

By definition, Career development refers to the planned efforts and activities employed to align an individual’s career needs with an organization’s workforce requirements. In other words, it refers to creating opportunities for staff to advance and develop professionally within the organization.

Hallmarks of a successful career development program vary, but certain key factors are often present.

  • First, employee development should be linked with business strategy. By doing so, career development is seen as a business necessity that relates to competitive advantage rather than as an extra that may be trimmed when budgets are tight.
  • Second, career development aligns individual needs with organizational workforce requirements quite clearly, providing the potential for significant gains on both sides.
  • Third, this development is employed as part of an overall human resource strategy, allowing for consistency in performance management and supervision.
  • Fourth, accountability mechanisms are present, so that the effects wrought through career development can be sustained over time.
  • Finally, development becomes institutionalized, so that those at every level of the organization are aware of the program, know how to take advantage of it, and can rely on its existence over time.

Several approached are used in career development on an organizational level. Some organizations identify career paths for employees to follow upon initial association with the employer. These career paths may stand alone or they may be closely aligned with the concept of succession planning for key positions within the organization.

Organizations that employ succession planning often identify both the interested individual and the path for the individual to follow. Mentoring systems may also be employed to encourage employee advancement.

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Employee self-assessment tools may be made available, such as career planning workshops, work-books, or computer software applications. Formal development programs may also be utilized, along with tuition reimbursement, job rotation, and enrichment systems, as a means to encourage employee development.

At the supervisory level, those persons tasked with career development of the employees they supervise may engage in a variety of behaviors and activities.

Supervisory behaviors and activities may include:

  • Identifying employee potential
  • Aligning individual career goals with organizational needs when providing career counseling
  • Helping employees understand the link between their current job performance and future development, particularly as it relates to the employees’ performance evaluations
  • Inspiring staff to work to their highest potential, and
  • Ensuring that resources are available to support employee development.

Supervisors often play a role in creating growth opportunities that are consistent with employee and organizational goals and providing exposure for employees to other people who can advance their careers or otherwise assist them.

Finally, supervisors may assist employees in identifying options, setting goals, and developing an action plan. In each of these ways, the supervisor can help an employee to advance within the organization and can assist the organization in strengthening the skills and abilities of current staff. In turn, these efforts may result in improved employee retention and an environment where people will want to work.