Using a Career Philosophy to build a Development Culture

Do your employees feel comfortable initiating career conversations?
Are your managers able to articulate their role in supporting their staff’s career? 
Does your management have a common stand on supporting career development in your organization?

If your answer is ‘no’ to these questions, then chances are your organization needs a ‘Career Philosophy’.

What is a Career Philosophy? 

It is a set of principles and norms that says how careers are supported and developed in your organization. It guides employees on what to expect and what can they do to further their career in the organizations. It articulates what a good manager does in supporting their staff’s development. Finally, it can serve as a unique selling proposition to recruit new talents.

Here is a list of questions to help your organization craft your own Career Philosophy:

  1. From the organization’s perspective, why is it important to develop employees’ careers? Are there any other reasons beyond the organization’s interests?
  2. What is the role of employees in their own career development?
  3. What is the role of managers in their staff’s career development? What behaviours does a good manager exhibit?
  4. What is the role of the organization in its staff’s career development? What do good responsible employers do?
  5. What do managers do or not do to support career development?
  6. What can individual employees do to explore their career development?
  7. If an employee wants a promotion but is not ready to be successful in the new role, what does the manager do and say?
  8. How do we see employees who want a role outside of the department? What should the manager and staff do?
  9. How do we treat employees who want to explore ‘the world out there’? Do we still keep in touch with them as potential returnees?
  10. What do we say to employees who choose to stay within their comfort zone?
  11. What resources does the organization invest in to support the career development of the staff?
  12. Are there specific expectations, such as 2 functions, 2 locations and 2 roles in a given time frame? Or are employees expected to change role every so often?
  13. Is it acceptable for one to propose a slowdown of one’s career development to tend to other priorities such as health or family?

Remember defining the Career Philosophy is not just the job of HR  department. Often HR spearheads and engages the rest of the management, so it is the organization’s collective agreement on, “here’s how we develop careers in this organization.”

Love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Feel free to reach me at to share your ideas or ask any question.

Written by:
Wendy Tan
Flame Centre

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