The basics of Career management

Employers have a significant impact on employees’ careers through their effects on the HR process. Recruiting, selecting, placing, training, appraising, rewarding, promoting, and separating the employee all affect the person’s career and therefore career satisfaction and success. Some firms institute relatively formal career management processes, while other firms do relatively little. We can define career management as a process for enabling employees to better understand and develop their career skills and interests and to use these skills and interests most effectively both within the company and after they leave the firm. Career development is the lifelong series of activities (such as workshops) that contribute to a person’s career exploration, establishment, success, and fulfillment. Career planning is the deliberate process through which someone becomes aware of personal skills, interests, knowledge, motivations, and other characteristics; acquires information about opportunities and choices; identifies career related goals; and establishes action plans to attain specific goals.

Careers Today:

Careers today are not what they were several years ago. Careers were traditionally viewed as an upward, linear progression in one or two firms or as stable employment within a profession. Today, someone’s career is more likely or be “driven by the person, not the organization and reinvented by the person from time to time, as the person and the environment change. Some even suggest that tomorrow’s career won’t be so much a gradual mountain climb as series of short hills or learning stages, as the person switches from job to job and from firm to firm. Thus the sales rep, laid off by a publishing firm that’s just merged, may reinvent his/her career for the next few years as a security analysts specializing in media companies, or as an account executive at a brokerage firm.

What does this mean for HR? For one thing, the psychological contract between employers and workers has changed. Yesterday, employees traded loyalty for job security. Today, employees exchange performance for the sort of training and learning and development that will allow them to remain marketable. This in turn means that the aims of HR activities like selection and training are now somewhat broader. In addition to serving the company’s needs, these activities must now be designed to serve employees’ long run interests. In particular, they must encourage the employee to grow and realize is or her full potential.

A survey was conducted to assess the importance of development activities by a well known HR professional from a large organization. Of the employees who left the organization 90% of people who left voluntarily talked about [the lack of] career and professional development and the level of support their managers gave them in this area.

Career Development programs tend to have a new focus today. Corporate career development programs used to focus on the employee’s future with that particular firm, in other words, on managing the person’s career with the firm. Today, the reality for most people is that they’ll have to change employers (and perhaps careers) several times during their work lives. The emphasis now is this on facilitating self analysis, development and management.

Providing employees with the career planning tools they need benefits all concerned. It gives the employee the perspective he or she needs to understand his or her career options, and he or she can do to pursue the most attractive ones. And, to the extent that the person develops the skills he or she needs for a career move, it makes the person more mobile and more likely to achieve career success.

For the employer, the career development partnership serves several functions. As two experts put it, employers provide the tools, environment, and skill development opportunities for employees, ad then employees are better equipped to serve the company and build it to its potential. Career development may also cultivate employee commitment often, one of the best things an employer can do to maintain employee commitment is to emphasize how the company will partner with the employee in continuously developing his or her skills and knowledge: The most attractive proposition an employer can make today is that in five years the employee will have more knowledge and be more employable than now. That should be the acid test for any career development program.

Career development programs needn’t be complicated. Employees report that receiving performance feedback, having individual development plans, and having access to non-technical skills training would probably reduce the likelihood they’d leave their firms. Yet, only about a fourth of the respondents in one survey had individual development plans.