Two topics HR pros and business thinkers are working on and writing about are inclusion/ diversity/equity and the future of work/workplaces. These are big topics, here we focus here on the strategic role that career development plays in both.
Inclusion, diversity, and equity- Potential over Experience. The challenge is how to gain, keep and elevate membership that looks more like the world and the organization’s customers, and bring fairness to everything that surrounds careers. One big change, that must occur that requires a next level career development solution, is selecting talent based on potential over experience. This shift will create more opportunities for diverse talent and combined with holistic, in-depth development plans will be a key to success in changing an organization’s profile. This means developing talent with a more objective approach to identifying gaps, teaching skills and approaches, opening doors to new experiences, expanding networks, coaching, while understanding that perfection isn’t the goal.
The future of work and workplaces- Virtual Career Discussions. In-person work and business travel post COVID-19 remains to be seen. It is safe to say that in person and business travel will remain much lower than 2019 baseline. Deloitte surveyed its customers in April 2021 and 40% expect to reduce office footprint by 2022, 50% expect people to be in the office about half the time, and 75% are reducing travel budget significantly. The main worries of hybrid work are maintaining culture and high performance. From an individual’s perspective it can get lonely and if his/her career vision becomes cloudy or disillusioned by these changes in work, then engagement and performance will suffer. To counter this, managers and employees need a solution that makes having virtual career discussions and set in motion individualized development.
Reconnecting to purpose through better career development
In this edition of Career News, we dig into how enhanced career development will play a key role in improving peoples’ connectivity to organizational purpose and reduce loneliness that comes from working virtually. The manager has a major role to play in development. They can provide constructive feedback that becomes motivational insight for the individual’s development. They can sculpt the role with assignments/projects, provide individualized exposure to opportunities and people, and they can sponsor individuals for future roles.
Three things make this hard to do 1) deprioritizing a discussion about career development until things stabilize (return to normal), 2) reluctance to let others shine and 3) uncertainty about the return on investment. Let’s dig into each of these. Waiting until things stabilize
Waiting is not the answer. The rate that people change employers continues to accelerate and today the average tenure is 4 years. Regardless of the length of time, having a career vision has a strong positive correlation to the amount of engagement and discretionary effort a person exerts at work in the presence.
Are career tools sufficient to help managers and employees have productive discussions about careers? Most of Human Capital Management systems address career development, in a general way. There’s a place to enter objective, action plans and dates. What is entered must be created from scratch. The manager can be biased by what worked for them, and employees struggle to see themselves objectively, so the work output is far from impressive. We need a visual solution; such as, FlightPath to bring rigor, objectivity on competency, values, experience and network health, and gaps with a chosen career destination. Manager reluctance to let others shine
Reluctance to let others shine is usually caused by a lack of confidence, not prioritizing talent development, don’t know how, or they don’t have a network with the ability to help. To be helpful, a manager has to work hard when coaching someone on his/her career.
Projecting your career path on others
Curiosity about the individual
Seeing what makes the individual tick as off limits
Willing to share direct observations
Speaking in generalities
Taking a risk on the individual
Only doing what's safe
Adapting to the individual
Limited to positions, vacancies, existing training
Advocacy to the individual
Representing the organization
Detaching what's in it for me (as his/her manager)
Considering how his/her development relates to me (as manager)
Manager uncertainty about return on investment (ROI)
A manager who views capability and performance as a gift that someone either has or doesn’t have will lead them down the path of treating their team members as disposable or as talent plugged in when needed and removed when not. They have a fixed human development mindset that tells them it does not make it worthwhile to invest time and effort in developing others. The first book I wrote, Getty’s Work, was a book about the value of developing talent. The key points of that book are that individuals can learn must quicker than we believe is possible - a little training goes a long ways. The best learning environment is a chance to take the responsibility while working with a coach. The coach has to be careful how they shape the learner. Some employees respond better with a simple gesture than a lecture to correct a new behavior and build a skill. The result is you grow talent that you know is culturally aligned with the organization for a fraction of recruiting, on boarding and eventually off boarding someone brought in for a specific assignment. If you develop someone in the organization and they flourish, they likely become an ally and the manager’s reputation expands. The good talent in the organization wants to work in your group.
Let’s go a little further on this with some math. If the cost of hiring someone is approximately half their annual salary and only about half of those we hire succeed and if the salary is $100,000 the cost of hiring is about $100,000 (.5 X 2 (training cost and turnover probability)). Compare that to say a 10% productivity hit to the position you are developing (say for 3 years), and maybe a $5,000 training expense and you are looking at spending $35,000 to save $100,000 for a 42% ROI.
All too often Good performance = Greater Responsibilities doesn't equal Salary Increase. Managers lose credibility when they don’t consider: “If this were me, how would I expect to be treated?”
We face a vast shortage of employee engagement and have for as long as any of us have been in the workplace. The average level of engagement is 30% of employees are engaged to their fullest extent. The lost potential and spirit from that missing 70% is heart-breaking and let me illustrate by sharing a call recently from a Millennial and HR professional. She works for the headquarters of a large consumer products company and having just finished a successful project, she had two departments asking her to join them in larger roles. The one department that had hired her, told her they would have a great opportunity and she should turn down the other opportunity, which she did out of trust. Then she was presented the opportunity, which is a good position full of learning, when it came to the economics there was no increase to her salary. She was crushed, now distrusting and angry. I asked her what her options were. She said she went back to the other department and they were still interested but had now started to interview so she could join the interview process. She said she felt like leaving or at least taking a long vacation, “I’m not going to give my best after being treated like that.” She had fallen from the 30% to the 70% just like that. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
Managers have a chance to open doors and consider how new opportunities fit with the person. In my story it was not horribly surprising that someone making $95,000 after a 2-year successful project would expect a promotion increase to take on more responsibility. The manager no doubt ran it up the pole to her manager and HR and I can only imagine the response was filled with position ranges, rules of entering a new position towards the bottom of the pay range, recent bonuses were paid and compensate the transferee, etc.
So back came the manager with a no increase “promotion” having missed answering the question, ‘if this were me, how would I expect to be treated?’ I asked her how she could express this dissatisfaction while not burning any bridges. She said, “I have already said as much to my manager.” I suggested to let the week unfold and not engage on the new job but just continue to say busy with transition and see what develops. 24 hours later her manager found $5,500 for a base salary increase. The employee appreciates this, but not nearly as much as she would have had she not had to fight for it.
Time will heal that distrust unless there are more reasons to feel underappreciated. I don’t know the circumstances the manager faced as she worked behind the scenes, and she is probably a very good manager, but she let her reputation be sullied by the bureaucracy. Managers should think about their reputation as professional capital, just as an accountant thinks of GAP as the way accounting works, or Quality professional thinks about ISO standards, or an engineer about first principles in design. When a manager begins to view their reputation as tied to the level of advocacy and fairness they create in the workplace we will see better engagement scores.
Career development adapts to workplace changes
As work changes, so must the way managers and employees engage in career development. Our FlightPath Pro delivers actionable insight and provides a dynamic solution for integrating everything needed for a robust career plan. Further differentiating, our solution serves the individual, so his/her plan is agnostic to their current employee. That’s equity.
News about Career Authority
Career Authority and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association have agreed to run a pilot this summer with students and alumni using our FlightPath and FlightPath Pro solutions. We are excited for the opportunity to provide students a career solution they can leverage for decades to come, and for experienced Alumni, help them develop a plan that improves their chances of a more fulfilling career.
More exciting news: Career Authority is a semi-finalist in theMN Cup Competition, for start-ups with big ideas that can help change the state of MN! Thanks to making the cut as a semi-finalist, we will receive mentorship, pitch coaching, exposure, connection to experts, and potentially seed funding. Wish us luck as we work with our mentors over the next six weeks and see if we receive seed money which we’ll invest in moving FlightPath along the technology development roadmap!
What our Members are saying...
A recent member of our community had this to say about career development. Aparna Ahuja, MD, wanted to make a career change as she had exhausted opportunities at her current employer. She held a senior medical affairs role and wanted to advance to the next level and improve alignment between her values with organizational culture. She landed a great new opportunity as the top medical professional at an innovative company and had this to say:
“I landed this amazing opportunity aligned to my professional goals through networking to gather advice, information and recommendations to help me make an informed career move. During my conversations, I prepared my message and psyche to share information about myself and my journey to increase my recognition as a valuable resource.”
If you would like to suggest a topic or make a submission for a future volume, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org