Career Development Plan for Employees

“Desire is the key to motivation, but its determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal a commitment to excellence that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” Mario Andretti

Keeping in line with a happy workforce translating to great customer service and high quality products, we will look at why companies must have a career development plan (CDP) in place for their employees. This is absolutely essential if they expect their employees to remain competitive and help the company to win and outsmart the ever increasing competition. A career development plan provides a clear path for the employees to willingly work towards developing their careers with the company and also be ready to gain new skills and expand their knowledge base. With a robust career development plan in place, employees feel empowered and in control of their future with the company and they will be encouraged to help the company deliver more value to customers and gain sustainable success.

Irrespective of success rate, size or other positive factors, no company can afford to miss opportunities to keep a stronghold in the market. Lost opportunities could lead to a spiral of many more opportunities resulting in unhappy customers and disgruntled employees – and everyone, completely understands the costs involved in customer churn and employee attrition. For companies therefore, a competent, effective, productive and loyal workforce is possibly the top factor to remain competitive, successful and in the ‘game’ for the long haul. New businesses and start-ups often are low on cash and other resources forcing them to keep their costs low by keeping the staff count low and the staff that they do have must remain with them for a long time. To ensure that their competent and highly skilled employees remain with them, they must provide a clear growth path by way of a career development plan. A motivated workforce is a company’s ultimate ‘weapon’ against external forces that seek to weaken it.

With an ever changing marketplace environment and unforeseen adverse situations, companies can be caught unawares and may be unable to recover if they are not strong on the inside. A competent workforce is a highly trained and flexible workforce that would be able to adapt and work through these situations and help the company to tide over the problem. When employees know that their chances of growing with the company are bright, they would be more than willing to upgrade their skills and take a keen interest in their career with the company. A career development plan provides the employees with a sense of control and security that is extremely important for them to work efficiently, without conflict and with minimum stress leading to greater work output and more productivity.

An effective and clear career development plan and strategy ensures that a company is able to recruit and retain the ‘right’ people. The kind of employees that have the required skills, knowledge and talent to meet the company’s long and short term objectives. The employees would also be well-equipped to manage within the resources available and are able to easily align with the company’s changing strategies and volatile market conditions.

The introduction, management and on-going success of a career development plan is a multi-faceted and many step process. A talent, knowledge and skills assessment needs to be made of all employees, the employees that have the competencies to meet the organizational goals need to be segregated from those who are longer way off, identifying the best career development plan for the most competent employees must be put in place and finally a robust method of measurement must also be formalized so as to be sure that the plan is working as required. A proper career development plan also uses the skills of a number of people and departments – the employee, their manager, the human resource persons and a senior person from management. Each of these people would be required to pool their efforts together and manage their set of responsibilities to ensure the success of the CDP.

Each employee chosen under the career development plan must be completely aware of their responsibilities to make the plan a success and also know their own potential and how they would like to progress their careers with the company. The employees under this plan have a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in the realization that the company recognizes their contribution. In addition, those employees that may fall short would be encouraged to work harder and produce better results in order to be selected for a career development plan and have a better chance of progressing upward. As the whole organization becomes aligned, there is faster and better quality of work leading to better service to customers, enhanced product quality and a success rate that leaves the competition way behind. A career development plan is therefore not overrated and is a necessity for any company.

Despite the importance of a CDP, many companies often ignore it. There are some reasons that seem to be common across companies. The tendency to focus short term and look at ways to fix what seems to be going haywire now. There are constant changes and disturbances that affect the smooth operations of a company and hence they are constantly involved in managing day-to-day operations and do not feel the need to pay attention to things that will not immediately have payback. Some may also find the long process of developing a career plan rather onerous and therefore may be unwilling to invest resources. Yet others are unable to make time or don’t have the inclination to make time for this activity. This is probably because they do not consider it vital to success!

The truth is that a career development plan is absolutely critical and companies and their leaders must make it a priority. We are stressing on the importance of a career development plan because it has a number of advantages and can prove to be one of the most cost efficient ways to gain a competitive edge for any company. A career development plan helps a company to polish and retain its best employees and keep the vast repository of skills and knowledge of these people within the company. Employee attrition remains low and also a company is able rid itself of those employees (because they would leave on their own) that don’t match up to the competencies required and work according to the challenging yet exciting work environment. Providing a career development plan boosts employee morale and they would be more encouraged to use their skills and talents for an employer that cares for them and invests in their progress rather than seek opportunities elsewhere.

Being valued and being able to create a niche for themselves in the company, would ensure that employees work harder and smarter, be part of innovative projects, provide creative ideas and overall are more engaged and happy. Such a workforce is more inclined to work collaboratively with their co-workers reducing stress and opportunities for conflicts. As productivity increases, customers too would be able to perceive a positive difference both in customer service and the offerings of the company. Happy customers mean more business, great referrals and growth for the company.

In addition, a career development plan is also a succession plan. As people progress up the corporate ladder, their positions become vacant which can be filled by people within the organization rather than recruiting from outside and investing in training the ‘outsider’ with the requisite skills and attitudes required for the company. In addition, these internal movements ensure that the knowledge base of the company strengthens and remains within the company.

Companies have now begun to realize that their most sustainable and fool-proof tool is to attract and retain the best talent. An effective career development plan ensures that they are able to become ‘employer of choice’ and enhance their reputation to formidable heights. It is clear that putting in place a career development plan is not a ‘when we have time’ initiative but rather ‘we must make time’ one. Put in place a career development plan for your employees or face the very real threat of being slowly wiped out.

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