Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Five Building Blocks For a Successful Career Development Program

By Lee Hecht Harrison on June 17, 2015

Lee Hecht Harrison’s recent talent management survey of nearly 400 HR, talent and line leaders from 20 industries, reports that two of the biggest challenges to executing a talent management strategy are retaining talent (59%) and developing talent (52%).

Managers play a critical role in both retention and development, yet often lack the competencies needed to be effective in these areas. Organizations that place a premium on career development as an integral part of their culture and talent strategy support it with robust tools, training and resources. Companies can support their managers by offering coaching to help them conduct more meaningful career conversations and providing the guidance needed to help employees take active ownership of their careers, develop the skills that their companies need and identify new ways to learn and grow within the organization.

Here are five critical building blocks for a successful career development program:

  1. Create accountability. Managers are often neither trained to conduct effective career discussions nor even held accountable for developing talent. Help managers understand the business case for career development and help them develop their own coaching skills. Show them the business impact and how it will help them achieve their individual, team and organizational goals.
  2. Facilitate career conversations. Provide a framework for approaching career discussions in a structured and organized way. Include opportunities to engage in mock career discussions in which managers put their learning into practice and receive expert feedback.
  3. Provide mentorship and advocacy. Develop a mentoring program (traditional, group or reverse) to promote the exchange of career advice, skills, ideas and information. Mentors also provide introductions and networking contacts, deliver constructive feedback, and offer opportunities for internal networking.
  4. Encourage internal mobility. Role hopping is a viable alternative to job hopping. Your goal is to keep key talent onboard and retain their institutional knowledge. Encourage employees to manage their careers by providing them with career-enhancing opportunities such as working on cross-functional teams, stretch assignments or leading key projects.
  5. Make it accessible. Support employees with skill-building workshops designed to help them take control of their own career development. Offer access to a self-directed online career development portal with tools for learning and key information about the organization’s openings and talent requirements. Integrate the portal with the organization’s existing resources.

Supporting employees in exploring options and developing new skills will help them identify their own career goals and uncover exciting new opportunities—engaging them on a whole new level that will not only retain them, but allow the organization to mobilize talent to fill future roles and help the organization achieve business goals.

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