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Career Management is a Virtual Challenge

Establishing a career centric culture within an organisation has been much harder to achieve on a consistent basis than almost any other element of the employee development agenda.  

A career centric culture is where an organisation has:

  • A clear and embedded Career Strategy
  • Visible and embedded career discussion programmes with senior leaders
  • A clear process for employees at a Career Crossroads to access guidance in confidence
  • Regular development for senior influencers and leaders to hold effective career discussions
  • A clear difference between career discussions and the appraisal process

Today’s changing workplace increasingly makes the embedding and delivery of such strategies difficult, in particular the growth in remote working.  Remote working now takes on many guises whether it is through home working, small satellite operations or regional structures where the interface between leaders and their team members is increasingly sporadic.  This in turn has led to a number of new challenges in the workplace for the HR agenda.  Whilst undoubtedly there are many liberating benefits for the employee and employer alike, the particular challenges to employee engagement and employee development are becoming quite significant.

Effective career management requires a level of two way knowledge between the employer and the employee which informs softer issues such as skills, values, abilities and fit, whilst the more contextual issues such as role content, structure and role context are also critical.

There is growing evidence to show that there is an increasing level of management by perception, perception that is often formed through an ability to work using communication media rather than the all-round evaluation of an individual witnessed at close quarters. In addition, remote workers often form more independent relationships with the organisation which makes commitment to geographic promotions or roles that change working patterns, harder to accept.

During a number of recent talent review sessions with corporate clients it has been clear that a lack of real evidence exists as to how:

  • An employee is delivering
  • Completed tasks have been approached by an employee
  • The leadership skills deployed and the capacity that exists will affect an employee to take on bigger and greater opportunities

From the employee perspective this is also a challenge as the signing off on a task becomes more transactional and the recognition that many employees crave for a job well done is often lost.  Human beings in the main thrive on contact and relationships.

Moving forward,  to ensure that we are able to optimise the talent we bring into our organisations and critically release both potential and discretionary effort, we need to address these latest challenges by ensuring that a more robust, visible and flexible career culture is established within the organisation.  In addition to this, a more appropriate appraisal mechanism is required to more accurately recognise and develop talent within the organisation.

Context both for decisions and messaging is key and almost singularly the biggest cause of misunderstanding.  Emails are very one dimensional in their message delivery,  text and Skype messages almost always inadequate in a business setting.

Establishing an effective career strategy requires buy-in and understanding from Senior Executives. Establishing this culture is not without risk as in addition to the benefits there will almost inevitably be conversations which lead to people leaving the organisation and even tougher conversations where the future we carry around in our mind is at odds with how the business sees it.  But these are important conversations which limit confusion further down the path.

Effective Career conversations are at the heart this work.  Leaders at all levels need development to help them hold impartial, confidential and objective conversations and also be clear as to where to refer employees for further assistance. Often leaders feel compelled to offer advice on what worked for them. These mentoring conversations are helpful but a truly effective career discussion can bring so much more.

Career planning has never been more exciting as role shape, content and nature are changing at a rate never seen before.  Embarking on a road trip without a map isn’t a great idea…why would we consider that with our careers and the careers of our most important assets?

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