Career development in organizations [...] importance of a career development plan in organizations and what benefit could be derived to various functions within HR and the organization as a whole. Career development is not only a growing trend in 21st century organizations, it is a necessity for organizations that hope to retain and expand a competent and contented workforce. The successful organization will create a harmonious balance between the individual's needs and the organizational needs, and career development can help create this balance.
Career Development in Organizations
What is career development? Many college students have experience with the counseling department, and the career development questionnaires that assess their strengths, weaknesses, and interests then analyze the best careers for their personalities and talents. Career development in the workplace uses similar tools to assess employee strengths and talents, but it also encourages the employee to strive for more, work to their best advantage, and continually grow and change with the company as it grows and changes. Career development is a growing force in the competency of America's workforce, and it is a useful and beneficial tool for just about any Human Resources department. Career development does not encourage the staff to look elsewhere for job satisfaction; it encourages the staff to develop their own potential, while also developing their talents where they are most beneficial to the company. The company wins, the employees win, and the HR department can concentrate on other issues, rather than employee retention and turnover.
Career development in organizations is not a new idea. In fact, the American Management Association sponsored a major survey on organizational career development (OCD) in 1978 (Gutteridge, Leibowitz, & Shore, 1993). However, OCD has evolved in the past quarter century from an internal department geared more toward creating career paths in the organization to a department geared to fully supporting the growth and development of one of the organization's most important resources - its workforce. Recent developments in career development tools, such as software and career assessment models have also made the task of career development a bit easier for the developer and the employee. Today, many more global and national organizations see the importance of career development to their employees, and their bottom lines.
OCD is a cornerstone in the creation of a strong internal culture. When a company provides internal career exploration, everyone benefits. Employees and management develop a better sense of direction in their immediate assignment, submit strong targeted resumes for internal postings, present themselves well at interviews and are better able to navigate the internal career paths. Additionally, employees with a career plan tend to invest in the company and demonstrate pride in their current assignment.
Typically, career exploration and development embraces the changing professional needs of the organization. Department leaders are interested in recruiting people who can demonstrate their skill and knowledge. Working hand-in-hand with Human Resources and Training, a career development office provides employees, at all levels, a secure and confidential environment to explore appropriate career paths though self-assessment, effective resume preparation, interviewing skills, and career management and exploration. Careers are no longer steady and fixed. There is a high degree of certainty that those employees who have learned to guide their own career will be able to prepare for, acquire, and master careers and jobs that emerge throughout the organization.
Creating a career development plan for an organization may seem daunting at first, but studies show greater satisfaction throughout the organization after the plan is in place and fully operational. Experts note, "Once the system is in place, however, it tends to engender positive attitudes and garner managerial support" (Gutteridge, Leibowitz, & Shore, 1993). However, for any career development department to work in an organization, a fully developed plan must be the first step in creating a successful OCD. The plan should discuss what outcomes the organization hopes to realize from its' OCD, and how to create those outcomes effectively. Most experts agree, "The overriding element of the career development strategy is the statement of the organization's corporate career development philosophy -- or generic policy" (Morrison & Adams, 1991, p. 34). Once the policy is in place, the expected outcomes can be generated. For example, "Outcomes may include job enrichment, job change, and self-development" (Gutteridge, Leibowitz, & Shore, 1993). A well thought out career development plan can lead to increased organizational efficiency and employee satisfaction, but it can also lead to increased efficiency and understanding in the Human Resources department of the organization. There are typically four stages of career development: There are essentially four stages of career development for the employee:
Stage 1 - Assessment
What are skills, values, interests, and work style?
Stage 2 - Exploration & Research
What are career options?
Information interviews & job shadowing (partnering)
Stage 3 - Goal Setting & Planning & Decision Making
Why is the best goal for the employee?
Stage 4 - How will employee get to goal?
What behaviors does employee need to engage in to get there?
When will the steps occur?
Who else needs to be involved?
As a department develops a career development plan, these steps should be analyzed, and the need for a professional career development staff analyzed, too. Will Human Resources (HR) take over these functions, or will new employees come in to take over OCD? What exactly are the organization's goals when it comes to employee support, development, and promotion? How can OCD help support these goals? These are all questions that must be answered when creating a successful OCD program, or the program may not suit the organization and eventually fail, or fail to support those people it was created to support. In addition, long-term goals must be established, as many career development programs take time to mature and show results. The measure of a good OCD program may take time to realize, but overall, a good program can enhance just about every area of the company, and even transform the corporate culture from one of employee dissatisfaction and unrest to a culture of contentment and increased job satisfaction from hourly workers up the ladder to corporate executives.
Typically, the career development function falls under the HR department's role, and it is often lumped in with "training and development." As two authorities note, "Development, whether individual or organizational, will not occur unless people participate in activities that introduce new knowledge and skills or improved behavior" (Gilley & Maycunich, 2000, p. 254). From the four stages previously noted, it is easy to see the employee is responsible for much of the initial career development process. They can use self-guided tutorials and questionnaires to assess their own work styles, preferences, and career options in the company, thereby allowing HR staff to concentrate on other functions. This self-assessment also allows HR to match the very best employees to the right jobs for their abilities and the organization's needs.
Clearly, the benefits to the organization and the HR function are many. These authorities continue, "Organizations use career development to increase productivity, improve employee attitudes, and promote job satisfaction. Thus, when firms implement career development programs, they encourage commitment and loyalty, and improve morale and motivation (Gilley & Maycunich, 2000, p. 261). In addition, successful career development can reduce employee turnover and hiring, increase HR (and most other) productivity, and allow HR to help create a more cost effective and efficient organization. Two authors write, "Productivity drops on a per capita basis when people are learning in contrast to when they are experienced. Thus, additional training, supervision, and operational personnel resources are required to produce the same results that could be provided by an experienced workforce/organization" (Morrison & Adams, 1991, p. 30). Increased productivity certainly helps the company's bottom line, but it also helps the HR department concentrate on retaining employees, rather than constantly hiring, training, and then losing employees who have not been fully matched to their careers. Training and hiring are extremely costly for an organization, and so is high employee turnover. Retaining valuable employees can no only add to the profits of the company, it can make for a more dedicated and comfortable workforce, who also can only add to the profits of the company.
An organization must be able to assess its OCD program, making sure it is effective in development and retention. If the OCD is not meeting its' goals, perhaps the plan was not fully thought out, or HR staff are not fully aware of the plan and its use. Professional career development professionals may be the answer to a successful OCD program in just about any organization, from small to massive. The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is the professional development association for career development professionals. They certify career developers as "career development facilitators" (CDFs), and require continuing education to update and add to their competencies. According to the NCDA, certified CDFs must:
Be proficient in the basic career facilitating process, comprehend and use both formal and informal career…