Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2 Musts for Self Directed Career Development


Self Directed Career Development Must #1: Individual Responsibility.

I have previously talked about the career continuum as a constant cycle: people’s lives naturally change, and their careers change with them. Putting your employees in charge of their own career development gives them not only greater ownership of their careers, but also greater latitude to let their career paths follow the paths of their lives.

At the root of self-directed career development, you’re really a) asking your employees to constantly refresh their views of themselves, and b) offering them the career development tools and resources to develop themselves.

The first point is the most important when it comes to the concept of career development. You can’t make a plan if you don’t know where you’re starting. That means providing access to not just assessments, competencies, and exercises for individuals to benchmark their progress, but also to mentors and coaches - or managers or recruiters who can act in that capacity - to review their learning plans and help these individuals understand the reality of career movement as it pertains to them.

Let’s put it this way: all career development initiatives seek to connect the dots between development and performance. Self-directed career development seeks to engage people around their careers, but always letting the responsibility remain with the individual.

Self Directed Career Development Must #2: Career Mobility Options.

There is always a door. It may lead up, down, horizontally, or even outside the organization - but you have to provide your people the organizational transparency, ability, and know-how to be able to go through it.

For whatever reason, sometimes it’s just time to leave. It’s easy for anyone to reverse all the good they’ve done in a position when they’re frustrated - and that includes harm done to the organization as well as to their own image.

It’s up to the individual when this time has come. And it may come for any number of reasons: a challenge with a colleague, a conflict with a new manager, bad communication, failure to receive recognition for their work, or simply a desire to explore new opportunities. If an employee has a passion to explore something else, perhaps it’s time for them to explore. In the same way, if they have issues in their current position and organization to the point that employee engagement and productivity are consistently suffering, it may be time for them to move on. And that may be within the organization and it may not be, depending on what the organization offers.

It’s worth saying that most times what the organization offers probably won’t be money. But value can come in more than just a raise or a promotion - it can come in a shift of role, workplace, state, or country. But in almost all cases, the tradeoff is being willing to accept more responsibility, and that requires a certain level of development. The key is that it’s self-directed, and self-decided.

As a rule, employees have more career mobility options if they keep their skills well-honed and proactively manage their careers. They become less susceptible to what happens to them, as opposed to how they direct their own careers.

Remember, you want to show people how to get to the door, because you want to retain your top talent. Even if it leads away from you, you want to retain your top talent. Ask yourself if you really want to hold onto the people who are walking out the door and away from your organization. If you already have a career development initiative in place at your organization and the answer is still “yes,” maybe it’s time to make some adjustments to what kind of activities, resources, and culture you’re offering.

Learn more about Insala's career development solutions.

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