Four Actionable Tips to Create a Valuable Career Path for Your Team

August 7, 2017 | Karen Weeks | HCI
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Employees approach management multiple times per week to talk about their development, how they can get a promotion and when it might happen.

The Harvard Business Review teamed up with Glassdoor in March, 2017 to conduct research on employee turnover, specifically looking at employees who took a step forward in their careers and changed jobs accordingly.  The results showed, “workers who stay longer in the same job without a title change are significantly more likely to leave for another company for the next step in their career.”

But what does a valuable career path actually look like?  Four tips below will help create a career path that aligns with your business; set clear expectations for different roles and levels; and motivates and retains your employees.

Don’t create too many levels.  You must be genuine in your approach to show opportunities for employees to progress in their career. It takes more than levels that serve only to change people’s titles more often. A promotion must be an expansion of scope and responsibility, which will also lead to more rewarding compensation changes. 

Find the right balance between specific and general.   Levels need to be defined in a way that’s general enough to apply to all the jobs in that tier, but specific enough to support how it applies to each team or group of roles. Employees will want to look across the department and understand how their roles relate to other roles in the department. Balance will also be important as you align the levels across the organization. 

The path must reflect your culture.  As you name the levels and titles, use words that echo your organization’s manners, like supervisor vs. team lead vs. associate manager.  Include an average time in each role that matches the expectations of your organization.  Finally, when you think about the roll out, prepare stories about people who have successfully managed their careers in the past and share those stories with the team.

Map your current team on the new career path.   Where do they fall within the new career path and is there a cluster of people at one level?  Make certain where each person should be placed.  Mapping gives you a chance to test the levels to see if the career path is clear.

Do not over-design your career path - it will make it more difficult to update as your organization evolves.

If you start with the key pieces above, you will be able to create a defined career path that will help mangers have valuable conversations with employees, leading to higher retention and engagement of your key talent.