It has become a norm to structure organizations to be “flat”. Flat organizations have concise organization charts and short chains of command. What do today’s organizations tend to lack? Assembler I, II, III, Technician I, II, III, Paths for Assemblers to become Technicians and for Technicians to become Field Support Specialists. Career Paths that include both growth and advancement opportunities. Employees motivated by achievement can be demotivated when their desire to envision and realize a future with a company is not satiated. To achieve skills and knowledge and to advance with a company is very satisfying, and opportunity fuels desire to learn and to master new roles. The best employees thrive in environments that offer a future that includes growth and advancement. Progression along career paths builds motivation, self-worth and performance, and improves employee retention. These are ingredients of a Return on Investment for organizations. Career Pathing is an under-tapped driver of employee engagement, development, performance and, last but not least, retention of high performers.
Effective career paths are rooted in Behavioral Competencies and Skill Proficiencies. Most of today’s organizations already use Behavioral Competencies as part of the performance review process. Typical examples of Behavioral Competencies in Manufacturing groups might include Teamwork and Problem-solving. A Skill Proficiency is the ability to apply a specific skill meeting pre-set standards. For example, as an entry level machinist with ABC Machining Company, Sara must be proficient at using applicable safety equipment and procedures effectively, using one piece of equipment to produce parts to tolerances in tenths, and in using basic measuring tools such as verniers, calipers and gauges. To advance to the next level, Sara must, while in her entry level position, develop knowledge and skills that meet the proficiency requirements for the next level: using two pieces of equipment to produce parts to tolerances in the hundredths and checking calibration of measuring tools, as well as knowing and applying all applicable safety procedures. Once Sara can consistently meet both the competency and proficiency requirements for the next level, she is ready for promotion. People usually take great pride in advancing along a career path through learning and mastery of skills and competencies that are increasingly demanding and challenging.
Critical Elements of Career Pathing
- A diagram or map that communicates the career growth and advancement opportunity that is available (to all employees)
- Clear performance expectations including Behavioral Competencies and Skill Proficiencies
- Processes to measure progress, providing employees and their supervisors with visibility to individual (and, ideally, team) performance results
- For higher level positions: succession plans supported by individually tailored development plans
Keys to Success in Career Pathing
- Involve managers and supervisors to understand the types of knowledge and experiences required for success in each role along the career path
- Identify specific, detailed behavioral competencies and skill proficiencies for each position along the career path
- Establish development processes and individual plans to help people to advance along the career path
- Align career paths, behavioral competencies, skill proficiencies and development processes with the business strategy
- Create path intersections and entrances from different starting points to each end point
- Design career pathing to fit the culture of your organization
- Integrate the behavioral competencies and the skill proficiencies with the hiring and selection process
- Prepare a comprehensive communications plan to educate managers and employees
Benefits of Career Pathing
- Engages, develops and retains the best talent
- Builds a culture of achievement and opportunity
- Builds organizational performance
- Provides a pipeline of talent throughout the organization
What’s in it for people who join your organization? Will they be able to see themselves learning, growing and advancing? Will they find jobs or careers there? Providing career paths that interest and challenge people engages them. Does your organization have career paths for your people? Are these career paths aligned with the business strategy? Either way, there are implications for the business.