The Impact of Career Pathing for Your Team and Yourself

A study conducted by Amazon and Workplace Intelligence revealed that almost three-quarters of Millennial and Gen Z workers, who currently represent over 50% of the workforce, are planning to quit their job due to a lack of skill-building opportunities and a clear career path.

career-pathThese generations are open to change and are adaptive, but they also have an extraordinary passion for learning new things and skill development at work. They desire to develop knowledge that will help them advance in their professional as well as personal lives. If your employees fear the lack the skills to advance in their career, are concerned that their skills are outdated or feel they are not prepared for the future of work you will continue to experience a lack of engagement and costly turnover.

When your employees ask themselves, “Can I advance my skills and career at this company?” If the answer is, “I don’t know” or “no,” chances are you will end up losing top talent from your team. And quite frankly, isn’t this the question you want answered as well?

The recent major cuts announced by companies including Meta, Amazon, Twitter, Zoom, Microsoft, and Salesforce, magnified how important it is to upgrade skills and marketability throughout your career. In fact, increasing marketability and staying competitive is viewed by many in today’s workforce as the only job security.

It’s not surprising that potential hires you interview will ask you, “What professional and personal development do you offer?”, “How will my work help your company attain goals and objectives?” and “What would be the next step in my career, once I excel in this job?”

Rather than be taken back or disqualify this candidate, realize you are interviewing a high achiever who wants the answers to these questions before accepting their next opportunity. If your answers align with their priorities, there is a greater probability that this person will become an engaged and retained employee.

It is for this reason that there is a newfound interest in the career pathing process, which can help your career, as well as help you attract, hire, and retain the best talent. Simply stated, career pathing is the process of planning an employee’s future career development by identifying their vertical and lateral career advancement opportunities within your company.

Career pathing was usually delegated to the HR Department but currently company leadership including the C-Suite are driving this process due to the great resignation and costly turnover statistics.

If your company does not have a career pathing process in place, this is something you could implement in your department or division to benefit you as well as the individuals you supervise.

  • Determine each of your employees’ priorities, career goals, and where they see themselves in your organization.
  • Review their current skills and identify additional competencies needed to achieve their short and long-term career goals.
  • Offer training that improves their skills and capabilities.
  • Provide specific performance objectives.
  • Discuss their career path during stay interviews and performance reviews.
  • Appoint a mentor who can help guide their career.

Not only does career pathing improve retention, but it also improves engagement and performance of your team members. Employees who understand exactly what they must learn and what milestones they must achieve to advance are more motivated to excel.

Implementing career pathing can also help you with succession planning. Rather than going outside to replace key employees, you will know which internal employees are not only available but are interested and qualified for positions that become available. Imagine the positive impact when employees understand that your company not only believes in promoting from within, but helps employees develop so they can experience career growth aligned with their career goals.

Career pathing is also good for your bottom line. When your employees are knowledgeable, loyal, and reliable you lower costly turnover statistics which has a positive impact of more productive interactions with clients and suppliers which can help lower costs and help increase profits.

If you have never done career pathing, it can seem overwhelming, but based on my experience, here are some steps you can take.

FIRST: Inform leadership that you would like to “Beta test” or “Pilot” a career pathing program in your department/division/office. This also allows you to make adjustments as your career pathing progresses.

SECOND: Research and learn as much as possible about career pathing or utilize someone in HR who may have experience in the implementation of this process.

THIRD: Create and share a framework that explains how the information will be documented. Often a simple spreadsheet can track details.

FOURTH: Start with a small number of employees, or one department, then you can expand your process.

FIFTH: Obtain feedback and input from other leaders and managers.

SIXTH: Maintain status, obtain feedback, and measure success.

One of the most rewarding aspects of implementing career pathing is that it can have an almost immediate impact. Your employees will refer to their career pathing during stay interviews and performance reviews. You will use them during your conversations with your team. You will also see improved engagement, an increased number of internal promotions, and decreases in turnover.

As an executive, you are judged and promoted based not only on what you personally achieve, but how the team you supervise performs. If you become the person who introduces career pathing to your company, you will be recognized, you will also create your own career path and that benefits your company and your career growth.

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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