Written collaboratively by Matt Tripp, Alex Morris, and Joshua Quist, PhD.
In the past, we have discussed some of the benefits for individuals related to career paths. In this blog, we will explore the way organizations most commonly utilize career paths and some benefits that are often overlooked.
The appeal of career paths for organizations can seem one dimensional. Most organizations can see the benefits of directing their talent pipeline – facilitating the flow of the best and most prepared workers in the most critical positions. However, focusing solely on this benefit discounts a wide range of benefits of career paths.
The key to unlocking these additional benefits is simple – make career paths and career path resources easily accessible to employees. Providing freely available, validated career paths to employees can help:
These benefits, though often overlooked, may equal or even outweigh the importance of being able to direct talent pipelines.
Disseminating career paths among employees increases transparency and illustrates how an organization is fair and thoughtful in its selection procedures. Employees working day-to-day may not have any clue about the criteria an organization requires or expects for particular positions. As a result, selection processes may appear random or unfair rather than calculated and deliberate. By identifying and requiring specific competence requirements, certifications, trainings, or past performances, organizations can create transparency in their selection process and thereby foster feelings of organizational fairness.
Organizations can use career paths to empower employees and encourage workforce engagement.
Identifying and elaborating on career paths gives employees information to begin considering their own development and advancement within an organization. Without an understanding of their options within an organization, employees may feel helpless or locked into their current position. They may seek more readily visible opportunities with different organizations.
But distributing career path information gives employees the chance to take their future into their own control by providing them with tools to assess all of their opportunities within an organization. Employees can then identify positions for which they are a good fit or into which they would like to transition or aspire. This provides individual employees a vision they can follow within the organization.
For the individual, this can provide a boost of encouragement and excitement about their own development and advancement. For the organization, it can help ensure that employees are first seeking out internal opportunities before external ones.
Empowering the workforce to see internal opportunities through the dissemination of career paths can also help to break organizational silos. Many modern organizations are highly segmented due to the increasingly technical and specialized nature of work. As a result, many organizations struggle to break down these artificial barriers between teams. Individual employees may struggle to see the similarities between their own team and others. Visually mapping career paths can highlight the overlap of competencies used within different positions or teams.
Identifying these overlaps helps organizations break down silos in two distinct ways.
Distributed career paths give teams and individuals organizational context to better understand the similarities of their work to the work of others. This may seem like a small change, but the results can yield tremendous benefits. Helping each component of an organization to understand the way they and their work relate to others can lead to additional discussion and innovation in processes, end results, and quality assurance that would have otherwise been overlooked. It can likewise help to foster commitment and a sense of teamwork within the organization as a whole rather than an individual group.
Once career paths are in the hands of employees, they can also identify and pursue new career paths, bringing fresh talent with different perspectives. Similarity of opinion and approach to problems can lead to innovation stagnation.
But by helping employees from different groups within an organization transition into new areas, organizations can provide a much needed breath of fresh air. Solutions that worked in one area can be adapted to another and new ways of thinking can help defeat challenges that would have otherwise been extremely difficult to overcome.
The benefits of career paths are numerous and could be implemented within an organization for little-to-no cost above identifying career paths. But with many organizations focusing solely on using career paths to direct their talent, they may be missing potentially huge benefits.
Does your organization utilize career paths? If so, how are they used? Have you been able to harness any of the benefits above?