Career Development, It’s Now a Business Imperative

by Beverly Kaye

ENGAGEMENT is not a program – it’s the result you get when you do several things right, starting with career development (CD). To be engaged, you first have to like what you do then learn, grow, achieve, and feel valued, appreciated, recognized, and rewarded (if not promoted).

If you don’t like what you do, if you don’t feel excited about something you are doing daily, you can’t feel engaged. People who like what they do, usually do it very well. They’re creative, put in more efforts, meet or exceed goals, and solve problems.  And they donate valuable discretionary effort – what money can’t buy. It’s the difference between giving it your all and squeaking by.

Discretionary effort delivers everything we want from excellent employees: creativity, teamwork, problem-solving, high productivity, and loyalty. When you’re doing the right work and getting the right input, you’re engaged, work harder, and feel a sense of satisfaction.

Engagement / Satisfaction:
Every year organizations invest in employee satisfaction and engagement surveys to take the cultural happiness temperature. Happiness directly translates into engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. If you’re engaged, you’re happier. If you’re satisfied, you’re happier. You can’t boost productivity with dissatisfied, disengaged, and disgruntled people. To boost satisfaction, productivity and engagement, you need to ensure that people are in the right jobs, doing the right work, enjoying it, following a CD plan, and having access to relevant tools and training.

Engagement is built on the platform of CD plans. They can be used to create staffing strategies, decrease turnover, and increase satisfaction and engagement. High engagement starts with CD. Teach employees how to assess their skills, interests and values. Help them understand how they’re viewed. Inform them of what’s happening in the company that may change how they work. Open them up to new possibilities and multiple options and give them tools to create an action plan to get what they want. Such CD will result in high engagement and satisfaction.

The manager’s role is to manage for CD. Most managers are trained in performance management (PM). They learn how to conduct performance reviews and submit the forms. Some managers believe that PM and CD are the same, since the performance appraisal form may deal with areas for development. However, they require different management skills. CD is future-focused professional growth. PM is about getting the job done better now. Management training that provides PM without managing for personal growth and CD won’t move the organization forward. Building talent for tomorrow requires a commitment to CD at every level – with the supporting tools and processes to sustain it and hold managers accountable for how well they develop their staff.

To get the talent you need for tomorrow, conduct a “stay interview” with people to learn how to help them grow. Train them on how to view their skills, talent, and future. Give them the tools they need to assess their career and train managers to support the development of their talent. The results will move the needle on satisfaction scores.

Beyond Disengagement:
What’s the cost of disengagement? If those who are not engaged are operating at 90 percent of their productivity level (a generous assumption), they are still costing you 10 percent of whatever you pay them! I invite you to calculate the cost of such disengagement.

What’s the solution? Employee commitment depends most on opportunities for career growth, learning, and development. Sadly, employees are unaware of how the organization can be an “opportunity market” for meeting their learning and development needs.

CD balances individual career needs with organizational business requirements. It involves assessing gaps, seeking feedback to improve capabilities, mining for career opportunities, and developing by growing in place, self-marketing, and action planning.

Beverly Kaye, an authority on career issues, engagement and retention, is CEO of Career Systems International and best-selling author on workplace performance and talent management.

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