As a business leader, one of your primary roles is to help your team members improve and achieve their professional goals. Of course, your motivation isn’t entirely selfless. The more your employees grow and add to/refine their capabilities, the more they will be able and motivated to contribute, and the more successful your company will be.
As a manager, then, it’s your job to determine the best way to motivate and enable your employees’ career development and to monitor their progression. By working closely with them, you can also proactively explore how they can be cohesively aligned to the same business goals.
By this point, you might be saying, “I’m not quite sure what each of my employees really want out of their individual careers.” If that’s the case, you’ve just found your next New Year’s resolution. As a manager, you not only need to be aware of your employees’ career aspirations, you need to actively encourage and counsel them to develop a strategic plan for making those goals a reality. A large portion of this will fall on the employee to formulate their individual goals and actively execute against them by adding various skill sets, but it is up to you to help them by removing impediments and determining how you can help along the way.
Of course, another concern many managers may have is keeping employees focused on their current roles and the tasks at hand. How do you keep them engaged in the here and now while also strategically going after goals that will allow them to grow later in their careers? The key is to develop a solid foundation that will allow for short-term and long-term career goals to be shared in an open setting and taken seriously for what they are. This will require you as a manager to be able to relate to your employees on a personal level and build a rapport of sharing goals and thoughts freely within the organization. It goes beyond a simple do’s and don’ts list, which is why you will want to instill a more formalized process to serve as the backbone.
Use This Employee Career Development Plan (Free Template)
My recommendation is to focus on creating a more tangible process by having all of your employees complete an Individual Development plan to keep track of their own goals and their progress towards those goals. The University of California Berkeley has a great model that you can personally tailor to create a similar structure that will be directly aligned with your team and industry.
As you can see, the employee will complete this development plan with a focus on short, medium and long-term goals that they have for themselves. In order to be truly effective, the key is for you to consider this plan something you own and are responsible for, too. To that end, one aspect that I love about this model is that it creates the foundation to set a goal and plan out how that goal will be achieved by highlighting resources that are needed as well as any obstacles to be cautious of (ie. dependencies, lack of required resources, etc.). The goals that are aligned with the shorter time frames of 1 to 2 years should be directly related to the employee’s current position and how he or she can grow professionally in the current or a related role.
This is a great tool that can easily be bundled into an annual review process and allows for quarterly updates to review the progress towards the goals in a much more casual setting. Quarterly reviews are critical to breaking down that initial 1-year improvement goal so it can be strategically attacked. Not only will reviewing this plan regularly assist your employees in improving personally, it will also provide you with multiple opportunities to really sit down with them to see what they want to get out of their individual careers.
You should give filling this layout out a shot, as well. It is a great way to identify what you want out of your career and can help you keep yourself aligned with your own career goals and aspirations.