You have probably heard (or used) the slogan ‘Own Your Career’ in your organisation. But is this really true?
Many organisations are avoiding facing the growing challenges of career management by throwing the full responsibility on the shoulders of employees. Others still act like puppet masters and believe they can map everyone’s career. And some are trying to strike the right balance that meets employers and employees aspirations. So really, whose responsibility is it?
Modern day career management seems to be reaching a paradox: employees want and feel more empowered as they can easily access external opportunities, but yet complain that their organisations don’t help them enough in their quest; managers are becoming more accountable for talent development but often are not provided the support to do so, and HR is always stuck in the middle mediating rather than facilitating.
There are the four critical forces for effective career management, and equilibrium is the key.
The Accountability Matrix
Career management must be a collaborative effort between employees, managers, HR and the organisation.
Employees must take individual responsibility for their careers by maintaining their individual talent profiles, focussing on personal development, demonstrating company values, and building their professional networks. Employees should understand their strengths and capabilities, outline career goals, identify development needs, create an individual development plan to close gaps, and be proactive in watching out for potential career opportunities.
The organisation provides an infrastructure in terms of the human and financial resources, business processes and technology that supports career management. It outlines strategy, values, goals and objectives, provides information about staffing needs, consistently supports and funds developmental programmes, and promotes an environment in which employees and managers are recognised for their efforts in talent development.
Managers are responsible for providing career coaching and performance feedback to employees, identifying opportunities for development and advising employees about potential job opportunities. Managers should actively support employees in setting clear goals and personal objectives, assessing potential, identifying career options, and providing growth opportunities through assignments, developmental programmes, exposure and visibility to other parts of the organisation and leaders.
The HR’s role is to provide the tools and resources for employees to manage their careers and for managers to help employees, aligned with organisational and business needs. The HR team acts as a facilitator, providing clear information about what it takes to get to the next level, visibility to developmental initiatives and job opportunities, offering career counselling, and implementing technologies that allow access to talent information.
What’s To Gain?
Through the powerful collaboration of the different forces in career management, employees and employers can take benefits in the three strategic elements that must be considered when designing a career management solution:
• Transparency: for employees, transparency means enabling them to understand the career opportunities that may be open to them. For the employer, transparency means visibility into an employee’s capabilities and career aspirations as well as understanding how these align with what the organisation needs its workforce to look like.
• Control: for employees, control means providing the tools that enable them to fully participate in the decisions about the progression of their careers. For the employer, this means having the right career management processes in place to ensure that they fill their key roles with the right talent.
• Velocity: for the employee, velocity means being able to flex the speed of career advancement to meet his or her career aspirations. For the employer, it means having a ready talent pool that advances at the speed needed to fuel the talent pipelines.
Whatever your philosophy is, these are strategic elements that all organisations struggle with and often fail to get right. Balancing the accountabilities between the four key stakeholders in career management – employees, managers, HR and the organisation – will foster a collaborative environment that drives successful talent development, engagement and retention.