5 steps to create a career progression plan that works

5 steps to create a career progression plan that works

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A forward thinking, finger-on-the-pulse company knows that career progression should never be just an afterthought. It has been proven time and time again that employees and teams thrive when given guidance on creating a career progression plan. According to the report How Millennials Want to Work and Live, 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.

Not sure where to start? Fear not. We’ve come up with 5 key steps to creating a good career progression plan: Self assessment, Evaluate interests, Decide what your company can offer, allocate resources and track progress. By following our handy step-by-step guide, you can begin to create a career progression plan that works, tailored to each individual member of your team.

Carry out a self-assessment

A self assessment is the starting block for creating a career progression plan. If you want to have a firm foundation to build on, the first step of a career progression plan involves having a clear idea of where each employee stands.
Have your team members describe their current career (in their own words) in these areas:

  • Areas where they excel
  • Areas where they struggle
  • Facilities or resources that could be helpful to them

Remember, as every team member’s career progression plan is different, everyone will require a slightly different set of resources. For example, one team member may require practical solutions such as shadowing colleagues or encouragement to take on more challenging projects. Others may thrive after an eye-opening seminar or mentorship with an expert.

  • The biggest obstacles to their career progression or anything that may hinder their journey.
  • Identifying career ‘blockages’ is a huge part of self assessment.
    This can be a difficult subject to approach without feeling like a traditional appraisal. However, if you emphasise these ‘obstacles’ can be removed, your employees  won’t be disheartened or see them as personal failings. These obstacles could be a lack of training, a limitation on your company’s resources, or perhaps their career plan veers towards a different department.

As someone overseeing career progression, it’s important you have an understanding of your team members’ careers, but it’s just as important for employees to self-assess. After all, no one knows a team member's strengths and weaknesses better than the team member themselves.

Evaluate your employees’ fields of interest and goals

Once your team members have evaluated themselves, it’s time to have an in-depth chat with them to find out what their interests are, and what goals they want to work towards. At the moment, it seems the younger generation of workforce struggle to make the first move when discussing their career plans. A report by Gallup found that only 29% of millennials strongly agree that they feel comfortable discussing their life outside of work with their manager.

If you want to strengthen that relationship, setting targets with your team members is a great way to build a healthy employer-employee relationship. Here are some questions you could ask your team members to get the ball rolling:

What do you think will keep you going in this career long-term?

Everyone has a different reason for getting out of bed in the morning, you may find your team members have different priorities. Perhaps they strive to make changes in the industry, perhaps they want to lead their own team, or perhaps they’re still working out what gets their cogs turning.

What goals would you like to outline related to your field of interest?

Finding out what they enjoy and where their strengths lie is a great way to determine a realistic goal. For example, if they enjoy leading a team of peers and they thrive at creative decision making, you could suggest a project management task to set as their goal. It’s all about giving your team members that extra push, without throwing them in at the deep end.

Are your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely?

It’s no use boldly declaring ‘I want to run this place.’ Your team members need a realistic plan and time frame in place, with logical steps. Have them think about what they’d like to achieve in six months, one year and three years.

Once you’ve asked these three questions, you can start to break their goals down into short-term and long-term goals. Ideally, the short-term goals are not too intimidating, but will feed into the long-term or primary goals. Not only does this make it easy to monitor their progression, but it gives your employees tangible results and changes in responsibility. They’ll be far more engaged through their progression if they are constantly hitting little milestones along the way.

Decide what your company can offer

Getting to know your team members’ goals and passions is a great way of building a healthy working relationship, so it’s important to be transparent about what your company can offer.

An employee’s long-term goals and career path may not line up 100% with the company’s long term objectives or company culture. As transparency and honesty is vital for a healthy working environment,  you don’t want to make any false promises or over exaggerate.

For example, if you have a team member that wants to  manage the company’s Instagram page, but you’re a growing startup that does not have a clear plan for a dedicated Instagram team, you need to make your limited capacity clear from the get-go. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel you are taking advantage of their career aspirations for free extra work. The career progression plan you draft together should paint a realistic picture of how much your company can help an employee in their career progression. A transparent, realistic plan can be just as exciting.

Allocate company resources according to your plan

Once you have a rough idea of how your company can help the employee with progressing their career, it’s time to put these ideas into practice. To achieve this, you’ll need to decide what resources can best help your team members as well as what specific resources or opportunities your company can offer. Here are a few steps you can take to help your employee get the most out of their career progression plan:

Bringing in expert speakers on the chosen topic

Using your company’s resources to have expert speakers in your team members’ field of interest offers your team something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

Offering courses and other training opportunities

Oftentimes, lack of training or specific expertise is an obstacle in the way of your employee’s long term goals. Offering training opportunities shows your team you’re rooting for them every step of the way. If you’d like to take an efficient, pandemic-proof approach to training, there are heaps of Learning management systems (LMS) and video training tools for you to explore.

Pairing team members with a mentor in their field

One-to-one mentoring is a fantastic way to train a team member while monitoring progress and building a strong mentor/mentee relationship with a senior colleague. Ideally, mentors should meet with their mentees once a month for a catch-up and to discuss which areas they would like to focus on next. These check-ins mean your employees can have stress-free discussions without feeling like they are being assessed or monitored by management.

Providing a budget for conferences, seminars, and other learning event

It should be clear by now that investing in a career progression plan that works means setting aside a budget to put plans into action. Money talks - and showing your employees that you’re prepared to fund their career progression plan shows you’re not taking this lightly. Chances are, the most useful conferences and seminars in your team members’ field of interest will cost an attendance fee - which may put off team members if they’re expected to cover costs themselves. If you put your money where your mouth is, you can provide game-changing training opportunities for your team.

Track the progress of your plan

Tracking the progress of your employees is a huge part of ensuring you’ve developed a useful career progression plan. However, as everyone’s career journey is different, you shouldn’t think of ‘tracking’ as a linear measuring tool. Everyone will reach different milestones at different paces, different orders and in different directions.

Here are some tips for tracking the progress of your plan:

Find an easy to use growth-measuring tool

Keeping track of everyone's individual journeys may seem difficult, but there are tools like Progression to help you out. Progression is an accessible, intuitive platform that streamlines all stages of the career progression process.

Keep the conversation going

As well as using a growth measurement tool, you should be having regular check-ins with your employees. Although it is tempting to schedule set meetings periodically throughout the year, it’s far more effective to meet with your employees in response to certain projects or issues. Showing that you’ve noticed their achievements as well as areas where they may need assistance is a great way of proving you’re engaged and dedicated to aiding their career progression. The Progression tool can also work as a communication platform if you’re looking to keep up the conversation.

Every member of your team is different - that’s what makes the modern day workplace so exciting. Every employee in your company has their own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, interests and goals. When creating a career progression plan, it’s your job to encourage every team member to reach their own career goals by eliminating any obstacles in their way and give them that extra push they need. You can keep this process simple and streamlined by following these four steps: Conduct a self assessment, Evaluate interests, Decide what your company can offer, allocate resources and track progress.

If you’d like a more detailed breakdown on how to create career progression plans, check out our Ultimate Guide To Career Progression,


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