How to Help Employees Create Career Development Plans

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
June 8, 2022

Top employer brands create a strong sense of purpose for their employees along with ample career development opportunities to attract and retain them. In a competitive talent market, employees can easily pursue new opportunities at other companies if they feel like they are not achieving their professional or personal goals.

A study showed that “of the 26% of workers planning to leave their employers after the pandemic, 80% are doing so because they’re concerned about their career advancement.”

That’s why it’s critical for people leaders to support employees’ professional growth. Fortunately, it can easily be accomplished by encouraging and guiding staff through a concrete career development plan. How to Guide Employees in Creating Career Development Plan.

The majority of the workforce wants to learn new skills and climb through the ranks, but most of them don’t know where to start. This is especially true for underrepresented employees or those early in their careers who may be too intimidated to get proactive with these conversations.32% of new interns don’t have a clear career plan, and 59% of new hires don't even know who they can talk to about their development. With this in mind, managers will need to take charge of the subject and guide employees through the following steps.

Build Career Milestones With a General Timeline to Set Expectations

Coming up with lofty career goals can be fun, but it’s useless without a plan. For that, a manager will want to help the employee break longer-term goals down into achievable milestones. But sometimes, coming up with these milestones can feel like walking a tightrope. These shouldn’t be goals that are too challenging, or they risk discouraging an employee from achieving them. Next, managers should have employees identify a rough timeline for how long they think these steps will take to complete. Let’s take a mid-level content marketer, for example. This employee wants a management position that oversees content, affiliate, and paid marketing channels, and she’d like that role within the next five years. This employee will need to pass through the following roles for a predefined amount of time.

  1. Content Writer (12 months)
  2. SEO Strategist (6 months)
  3. Content Marketing Manager (12 months)
  1. Begin training in affiliate partnerships (last 6 months of the position)
  1. Assistant to the Digital Marketing Manager (12 months)
  1. Includes training in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing (last 6 months of the position)
  1. Digital Marketing Manager

This is a simplified example of a road map that covers all the positions from a mid-level content marketer to a Digital Marketing Manager. It also includes the amount of time the employee can expect to stay in each position. During certain phases, also notice additional training is required at specific steps (in this example, training for affiliate partnerships and PPC marketing).

Identify Any Missing Skills Needed for the Next Step

Have the staff member identify any skills they think they’ll need to successfully progress into their desired role. This is where a manager’s expertise and guidance are crucial.An employee may not be the most accurate judge of their current skill set, and they may not fully understand all the skills expected of them at each stage of their career. This is the perfect opportunity for a leader to educate them on the concrete experiences they’ll need to develop to improve professionally.

5 Ways to Help Employees Create (& Stick to) Career Development Plans

Creating a career development plan with an employee is relatively easy, but managers can’t do it in a single meeting. Sticking to that plan requires ongoing work. Without investment from management, career development gets lost in the day-to-day grind.These steps will help managers encourage employees to create and stick with their career development plan.

1. Hold Team and Individual Career Development Workshops

It’s important to explain why these plans are important, and not just an extra task on the to-do list. Managers and HR teams should meet with employees to discuss the plans and provide guidance on the process for building one. Worried staff won’t find it interesting? Don’t be — 68% of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy. Managers are providing these development opportunities to support their employees’ professional future.

2. Create Standardized Internal Resources for Career Growth

Training seminars are a great place to introduce the topic of career development plans but are not sufficient for getting people to work through the process. A great way to encourage staff to build a career development plan is by giving them an internal hub of resources. These can include videos, articles, and guides on how staff can grow from their current job into a desired role. An internal resource hub points employees in the right direction as they work through their professional milestones. But the best part is that the resources provided can be easily updated to account for company-wide changes, new position openings, or more detailed documentation about a specific career path. By standardizing this material, it allows employees to fully understand what’s required of them at each stage of their professional growth. Providing these resources in an accessible and centralized hub will help your people accomplish their goals autonomously.

3. Give Employees Structured Time for Professional Reflection

While employees probably think about their professional lives in their free time, they shouldn’t be required to. After all, career development is something that should be built into an employee’s workday, not something piled on top of an already full schedule. Demonstrate the company’s commitment to empowering staff by giving them structured time each week or month to reflect on their current role and their future ambitions. Create thought-provoking questions and ask for written responses to ensure staff is using the time effectively. For example, managers might create a career development plan with a new hire in their first month. Then, in a written quarterly review, check in with the following questions:

  • As you’re a little closer to reaching your milestones, are you still happy with your long-term goal as it’s currently outlined?
  • What unexpected challenges have you faced as you’re tackling these initial milestones, and how could you feel more supported?
  • Is the experience matching your expectations? If so, how?

4. Set Aside Time in One-on-Ones to Discuss Employee Development

Moving forward in a career can feel like joining a gym. At first, it’s all motivation and energy. After a few weeks, though, the excitement begins to wane. That’s where a personal trainer (in this case, a people leader) comes in. Managers should put aside time each week or month to check in face to face with employees and make sure they’re still motivated to reach their milestones and short-term goals. These meetings can be short routine check-ins or more lengthy discussions, depending on the employees’ needs and goals.It’s especially important because employees’ ambitions often change. As an employee’s professional trajectory evolves with new skills and competencies, managers will want to help them re-assess their current plan to course-correct when necessary.

5. Build a Mentorship Program

There’s a reason why 70% of Fortune 500 companies invest in mentorship: it works. As a result of mentorship programs, companies report:

The real benefit here is that mentorship programs fast-track employees’ career development. They give early career talent  and high potentials the opportunity to get direct guidance from a person who’s already obtained their desired job.Plus, mentorship and networking software, like Ten Thousand Coffees, can counteract any underlying biases that prevent underrepresented groups from realizing well-deserved opportunities. That’s because the 10KC SmartMatch algorithm matches mentors and mentees based on their professional interests and goals, without the unconscious biases attributed to manual matching programs.

Empower Staff for Success

It’s a people leader’s job to put both individual team members and the company as a whole on the path to success. Helping team members come up with career development plans is a crucial part of that. It takes a network of peers, managers and mentors to support employees in their professional growth. By pairing career development plans with a strong mentorship program, the staff and the business will thrive. That’s why Ten Thousand Coffees is dedicated to providing the best mentoring, networking and informal talent development experiences. People managers can help their employees transform their professional goals into reality.

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How to Help Employees Create Career Development Plans

Top employer brands create a strong sense of purpose for their employees along with ample career development opportunities to attract and retain them. In a competitive talent market, employees can easily pursue new opportunities at other companies if they feel like they are not achieving their professional or personal goals.

A study showed that “of the 26% of workers planning to leave their employers after the pandemic, 80% are doing so because they’re concerned about their career advancement.”

That’s why it’s critical for people leaders to support employees’ professional growth. Fortunately, it can easily be accomplished by encouraging and guiding staff through a concrete career development plan. How to Guide Employees in Creating Career Development Plan.

The majority of the workforce wants to learn new skills and climb through the ranks, but most of them don’t know where to start. This is especially true for underrepresented employees or those early in their careers who may be too intimidated to get proactive with these conversations.32% of new interns don’t have a clear career plan, and 59% of new hires don't even know who they can talk to about their development. With this in mind, managers will need to take charge of the subject and guide employees through the following steps.

Build Career Milestones With a General Timeline to Set Expectations

Coming up with lofty career goals can be fun, but it’s useless without a plan. For that, a manager will want to help the employee break longer-term goals down into achievable milestones. But sometimes, coming up with these milestones can feel like walking a tightrope. These shouldn’t be goals that are too challenging, or they risk discouraging an employee from achieving them. Next, managers should have employees identify a rough timeline for how long they think these steps will take to complete. Let’s take a mid-level content marketer, for example. This employee wants a management position that oversees content, affiliate, and paid marketing channels, and she’d like that role within the next five years. This employee will need to pass through the following roles for a predefined amount of time.

  1. Content Writer (12 months)
  2. SEO Strategist (6 months)
  3. Content Marketing Manager (12 months)
  1. Begin training in affiliate partnerships (last 6 months of the position)
  1. Assistant to the Digital Marketing Manager (12 months)
  1. Includes training in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing (last 6 months of the position)
  1. Digital Marketing Manager

This is a simplified example of a road map that covers all the positions from a mid-level content marketer to a Digital Marketing Manager. It also includes the amount of time the employee can expect to stay in each position. During certain phases, also notice additional training is required at specific steps (in this example, training for affiliate partnerships and PPC marketing).

Identify Any Missing Skills Needed for the Next Step

Have the staff member identify any skills they think they’ll need to successfully progress into their desired role. This is where a manager’s expertise and guidance are crucial.An employee may not be the most accurate judge of their current skill set, and they may not fully understand all the skills expected of them at each stage of their career. This is the perfect opportunity for a leader to educate them on the concrete experiences they’ll need to develop to improve professionally.

5 Ways to Help Employees Create (& Stick to) Career Development Plans

Creating a career development plan with an employee is relatively easy, but managers can’t do it in a single meeting. Sticking to that plan requires ongoing work. Without investment from management, career development gets lost in the day-to-day grind.These steps will help managers encourage employees to create and stick with their career development plan.

1. Hold Team and Individual Career Development Workshops

It’s important to explain why these plans are important, and not just an extra task on the to-do list. Managers and HR teams should meet with employees to discuss the plans and provide guidance on the process for building one. Worried staff won’t find it interesting? Don’t be — 68% of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy. Managers are providing these development opportunities to support their employees’ professional future.

2. Create Standardized Internal Resources for Career Growth

Training seminars are a great place to introduce the topic of career development plans but are not sufficient for getting people to work through the process. A great way to encourage staff to build a career development plan is by giving them an internal hub of resources. These can include videos, articles, and guides on how staff can grow from their current job into a desired role. An internal resource hub points employees in the right direction as they work through their professional milestones. But the best part is that the resources provided can be easily updated to account for company-wide changes, new position openings, or more detailed documentation about a specific career path. By standardizing this material, it allows employees to fully understand what’s required of them at each stage of their professional growth. Providing these resources in an accessible and centralized hub will help your people accomplish their goals autonomously.

3. Give Employees Structured Time for Professional Reflection

While employees probably think about their professional lives in their free time, they shouldn’t be required to. After all, career development is something that should be built into an employee’s workday, not something piled on top of an already full schedule. Demonstrate the company’s commitment to empowering staff by giving them structured time each week or month to reflect on their current role and their future ambitions. Create thought-provoking questions and ask for written responses to ensure staff is using the time effectively. For example, managers might create a career development plan with a new hire in their first month. Then, in a written quarterly review, check in with the following questions:

  • As you’re a little closer to reaching your milestones, are you still happy with your long-term goal as it’s currently outlined?
  • What unexpected challenges have you faced as you’re tackling these initial milestones, and how could you feel more supported?
  • Is the experience matching your expectations? If so, how?

4. Set Aside Time in One-on-Ones to Discuss Employee Development

Moving forward in a career can feel like joining a gym. At first, it’s all motivation and energy. After a few weeks, though, the excitement begins to wane. That’s where a personal trainer (in this case, a people leader) comes in. Managers should put aside time each week or month to check in face to face with employees and make sure they’re still motivated to reach their milestones and short-term goals. These meetings can be short routine check-ins or more lengthy discussions, depending on the employees’ needs and goals.It’s especially important because employees’ ambitions often change. As an employee’s professional trajectory evolves with new skills and competencies, managers will want to help them re-assess their current plan to course-correct when necessary.

5. Build a Mentorship Program

There’s a reason why 70% of Fortune 500 companies invest in mentorship: it works. As a result of mentorship programs, companies report:

The real benefit here is that mentorship programs fast-track employees’ career development. They give early career talent  and high potentials the opportunity to get direct guidance from a person who’s already obtained their desired job.Plus, mentorship and networking software, like Ten Thousand Coffees, can counteract any underlying biases that prevent underrepresented groups from realizing well-deserved opportunities. That’s because the 10KC SmartMatch algorithm matches mentors and mentees based on their professional interests and goals, without the unconscious biases attributed to manual matching programs.

Empower Staff for Success

It’s a people leader’s job to put both individual team members and the company as a whole on the path to success. Helping team members come up with career development plans is a crucial part of that. It takes a network of peers, managers and mentors to support employees in their professional growth. By pairing career development plans with a strong mentorship program, the staff and the business will thrive. That’s why Ten Thousand Coffees is dedicated to providing the best mentoring, networking and informal talent development experiences. People managers can help their employees transform their professional goals into reality.

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