I read a great article on Medium recently about the importance of a career roadmap. It was written from the point of view of a young employee who had always been intentional and forward-thinking when it came to selecting courses during her studies. She realized that, when she landed her first job, she quickly stopped thinking about her future.
Isn’t that the way for most of us? We often have lofty plans and goals before we start our careers, but as soon as we start working, we get sidetracked by an endless to-do list, office politics, and family commitments.
Suddenly our careers are happening to us – shaped by what our employers and managers need – rather than being shaped by our plans. And so the frustration builds until we think that the only way to advance our careers is to accept a role at a different company. But the cycle repeats itself every few years and we end up hopping from job to job.
Leaders who understand this cycle can help their employees avoid all the frustration by helping them to develop a career roadmap before they get frustrated and leave. In fact, proper career planning is a powerful retention tool.
Leading companies around the world use our technology to build their employees’ career roadmaps, so we’ve been able to gather best-practice advice from their experiences. We’ll share the top five elements of any good career roadmap.
1. Help them map out the skills they want to develop in the next 5 years
A career roadmap usually starts with a conversation about where the employee wants to be in five or ten years’ time, but it doesn’t have to. It can be daunting to plan so far ahead, and we all know that things can change a lot in the space of five years!
It’s much more constructive to ask your employee to think about the skills they’d like to develop. For example, they might want to work towards becoming Global Content Strategist, and that means that they need to develop skills like copywriting, editing, managing external contractors or agencies, budgeting, and client presentation.
If they focus on developing these skills, they’ll be well-positioned to reach their goal or, if it changes, they’ve still got excellent skills that will open all sorts of doors.
2. Ask them to research professional development and certification programs
Once they have identified the skills they’d like to develop, you can encourage them to be proactive about gaining them. Let them know what their training budget is and ask them to put together a proposal for the certifications and/or courses that they would like to enroll in. If they’re creative, they’ll find online courses, books, conferences, short-courses and formal courses. You might even have existing LMS courses that they can work through.
3. Encourage them to seek out relevant projects
The best way to develop skills is often by learning them on the job. Encourage your employee to seek out opportunities to practice their skills on live projects. For example, your employee could take on the management of content for one global marketing campaign per quarter. Or they could help the HR department create an internal marketing program to build moral.
4. Connect them to a mentor
Sometimes, the best way to make career decisions is to work with a trusted mentor – someone who has been where you are, and who can offer objective feedback and advice in difficult situations. This person is often not your boss. Help your employee identify and approach a potential mentor.
5. Give them regular, real-time feedback from a variety of people
Once all the elements are in play and your employee is working the plan, you can accelerate their development by ensuring they receive regular constructive feedback from the people they work with.
Learn more about vi’s career planning solutions
We offer a suite of employee retention and career planning solutions, including a skills tracking system, a gigs and work allocation platform, a performance management system, and a real-time feedback tool.
Get started today with a quick online demo from our friendly team.