Ideally, the employer, employee and manager all play roles in planning guiding and developing the employee’s career (see table below). We’ll look at each.
Roles in career Development
1) Accept responsibility for your own career
2) Assess your interests, skills, and values
3) Seek out career information and resources.
4) Establish goals and career plans.
5) Utilize development opportunities
6) Talk with your manager about your career
7) Follow through on realistic career plans.
1) Provide timely and accurate performance feedback
2) Provide development assignments and support.
3) Participate in career development discussions with subordinates.
4) Support employee development plans.
1) Communicate mission, policies and procedures
2) Provide training and development opportunities including workshops.
3) Provide career information and career programs
4) Offer a variety of career paths.
5) Provide career oriented performance feedback.
6) Provide mentoring opportunities to support growth and self direction.
7) Provide employees with individual development plans.
8) Provide academic learning assistance programs.
The employee’s Role
While the employer and manager play roles in guiding employees’ careers, this is one task that on employee should ever abandon to his or her manager or employer. For the individual employee, career planning means matching individual strengths and weaknesses with occupational opportunities and threats. In other words, the person wants to pursue occupation, jobs, and a career that capitalize on his or her interests , aptitude , values and skills. He or she wants to choose occupations, jobs, and a career that make sense in terms of projected future demand for various types of occupations. The consequences of a bad choice (or of no choice) are too severe to level such decisions to others.
Of course career planning is no guarantee. Several years ago, a career as an engineer, doctor or a government employee seemed like a sure to success, at least till India embraced globalization and many MNCs entered India. Yet, opportunities like these only underscore the need for monitoring the job market, in order to be better positioned to move when a career switch over is required. Luck, as someone once said tends to come to those who are best prepared.
Many people make the mistake of changing jobs or occupations when a smaller change would suffice. Dissatisfied at work, they assume it must be the job or the occupation. But, why decide to switch from being a lawyer to a teacher, when it’s not the profession but that firm’s 80 hour weeks that’s the problem?
The employee needs to use a process of elimination. For example some people may like their occupations and the employers for whom they work, but not how their specific jobs are structured. Others may find their employers’ ways of doing things are the problem. Or, it may in fact be the occupation.
In any case, the solution needs to fit the cause. For example if, after thinking it through you are satisfied with your occupation and where you work, but not with your job as it’s organized now, try reconfiguring. For example, consider alternative work arrangements such as flexible hours or telecommunication; delegate or eliminate the job functions you least prefer, and seek out a stretch assignment that will let you work on something you fid more challenging.
Studies also suggest that having a mentor – a senior person who can be a sounding board for your career questions and concerns, and provide career related guidance and assistance can significantly enhance career satisfaction and success. Here, the employer can play an important role, for instance, by encouraging senior managers to serve as mentors. But is still usually the employee’s responsibility to find a mentor and to maintain a productive relationship. Suggestions for doing so include:
1) Choose an appropriate potential mentor. The mentor should be objective enough to offer good career advice, so someone who’s not your direct boss may be best. Many people seek out someone who is one or two levels above their current boss.
2) Don’t be surprised if you’re turned down. Not every one is willing to undertake this time consuming commitment.
3) Make it easier for a potential mentor to agree to your request by making it clear ahead of time what you expect in terms of time and advice.
4) Have an agenda. Bring an agenda to your first mentoring that lays out key issues and topics for discussions.
5) Respect the mentor’s time. Be selective about the work related issues that you bring to the table. Furthermore, the mentoring relationship generally should not involve personal problems or issues.
Mentoring may be formal or informal. Informally, mid and senior level managers may voluntarily help less experienced employees – for instance , by giving them career advice and helping them navigate office politics. Other informal means include increasing the opportunities for networking and interactions among diverse employees. For instance, the employer may pair protégés with potential mentors and provide training to help mentor and protégé better understand their respective responsibilities.