Career Planning Management of the Employees

Career Planning Management of the Employees

Career planning is a process of systematically approach followed by the organizational management for the matching of the career goals and individual capabilities of the employees with opportunities for their fulfillment. It is the process of enhancing the employees’ future value. Career planning is carried out for developing the employees’ career path within the organization. It encourages the employees to explore and gather information, which enables them to synthesize, gain competencies, make decisions, set goals and take action. It is crucial for the human resource development in the organization which helps both the employees and the organization.

An effective organizational management normally incorporates career planning, career development and succession planning. The organization without career planning and career development initiatives is likely to face fall in the performance of the employees and a high rate of attrition, causing in turn, a lot of harm to the organizational plans and programmes. Also, without succession planning and the management of vacancies, particularly at higher levels, it is difficult for the organization to find the right choice of the employees for the vacancies created. There are examples of many organizations which have to suffer for not being able to find a right successor for the key positions. The term career planning and career developments are used interchangeably in many of the organizations.

Employee’s career is defined as a sequence of attitudes and behaviours associated with the series of job and work related activities over the employee’s lifetime. It is a succession of related jobs, arranged in hierarchical order, through which the employee moves in the organization. The employees’ career can be focused on the employees’ perceived sequence or their development in the organization can be planned by the management. In other words, career can be either ‘individual centred’ or ‘organizational centred’. Hence, career is often defined separately as external career and internal career. External career refers to the objective categories used by the organizations to describe the progression of steps through a given occupation, while internal career refers to the set of steps or stages which make up the individual’s own concept of career progression within an occupation. For such two different approaches, in the organizational context, career can be identified as an integrated pace of vertical and lateral movement in an occupation of the employee over his employment span.

Career planning in an organization is the process by which the organization along with the employees selects career goals and the path to achieve these goals. It aims to identify needs, aspirations and opportunities for the employees’ career and includes the implementation of developing the human resource development (HRD) programs to support those careers. Career planning is a continuous process of discovery in which the employees develop their own occupational concept as a result of skills or abilities, needs, motivations and aspirations of their own value systems. Career planning is seen as a systematic and comprehensive process which targets (i) career development and implementation of strategies, (ii) self-assessment and analysis of opportunities, and (iii) evaluation of the results.

Career planning process involves both the organization and the employees’ responsibility. Thus, the employees’ are required to identify their aspirations and abilities, and through assessment and counseling to understand their needs of training and development, while the organization is required to identify the needs and opportunities, to plan for its employees, and to ensure its employees receives the necessary information and appropriate training for career development.

Hence, the career planning links the employee’s needs and aspirations with organizational needs and opportunities, evaluating, advising and informing the employees on career planning, and employees’ development efforts with training and management development programs. Very often this match is not done, the organizations paying a differential attention to its employees, planning career only of the high performance individuals with greater opportunities for promotion and not taking into account the performance potential of the employees.

Process cycle of career planning

The career planning is a process of synthesizing and harmonizing the need of the organization with the aspirations of the employees so that the individual employee can realize self-fulfillment and the organization effectiveness can be improved. Career planning goes through the following process cycle.

Exploring career – Exploring the career is first stage in the process of career planning. It starts with the joining of the employee in the organization and continues as his career progresses in the organization. During this stage the employee seeks, finds, and knows about the organization. Human resource department and the manager under whom the employee functions help the employees to become comfortable with the environment of the organization by conducting orientation and induction training program.

Identifying individual aspiration and needs – It is the second stage and consists of finding out and identifying individual aspirations and needs. The process is quite complicated and complex due to large number of employees present in the organization. Also, many of the employees do not have a clear cut idea about their career aspirations, anchor, and goals.  Here the role of human resource department and the manager to whom they are reporting comes into picture. They have to help the employees by providing as much information as possible. Along with aspirations and needs the employees’ skills, ability and experience are also to be considered. The basic purpose is that the employees are to be helped in forming a clear view about what they are to do to develop or build their career within the organization. This assists them in making a decision about their career.

Gathering information stage -The third stage in the process of career planning is to gather information regarding choosing of the career from different sources. Information is a very valuable asset for the organization/employees in deciding of the career. At this stage the organization/employees investigate the entire information and study it greater depth. The organization/employees begin to identify potential career by gathering essential information pertaining to (i) learning skills and experience required, (ii) whether there is necessary academic qualifications available for career alternatives, (iii) investigating regarding education and training needed, (iv) investigating regarding position vacancies going to be created in future, (v) learning requirements for the vacancies’ positions, and (vi) whether there is need to have learning above the requirements for being on safer side to progress on the careers of interests.

Analysis of career opportunities – It is the fourth stage of career planning process. After gathering of the information, the next stage is to analyze all the available informations for job or career alternatives, which means whether the employee for his future career development is to be shifted to a different job or his career can be planned in the present job. After identifying career needs and preparation of personnel skill inventories and capacity and ability, the organization makes a career path for the employees or individuals for their career. The career path shows how the employee is going to progress in his career in future. However this path need not be very rigid and if the employee shows signs of better development his career path can be improved for the better.

Career goal setting – Career goal setting is the fifth stage of career planning process which comes after the analysis of the career opportunities. After the career path for the employee has been drawn, the next step is to set a particular specific alternative or goal and deciding objectives to achieve it. In this stage goal to be achieved by the employee and objectives required for achieving it are set by the human resource department in consultation with the employees.

Maintenance stage – The maintenance stage is the sixth stage in the process of career planning. This is also called the stage of stability. This stage occurs when the employee has spent several years in the organization. The employee is in the condition of stability. He is in a stage where he not only maintains himself in the organization but along with it he is very keen to maintain his reputation in the organization.

Decline stage – It is the last stage in the career planning when the employee has already spent a large number of years in the organization. He is near his retirement age. At this stage the career planning urge declines and neither the employee nor the organization is keen on career planning. The employee at this stage is more concerned about the plans for post-retirement activities.

Model for career planning process

A model for the career planning process is shown in Fig 1. The matters to be considered in the career planning process include (i) employees are to be recognized and treated as individuals with needs, desires and unique skills, (ii) employees are more motivated in an organization which meets their aspirations, and (iii) employees can develop, change and motivated to perform better if they are shown the opportunities or if they are encouraged and guided. Hence, the career counseling activities for the employees is required to be a formalized activity for the human resource development in the organization. This leads to a better alignment between the employees’ satisfaction needs and the objectives of the organization.

Fig 1 A model for career planning

There are generally three models for the career planning process. These models are (i) ‘chance and luck’ model, (ii) ‘organization knows best’ model, and (iii) ‘self-oriented’ model.  In the ‘chance and luck’ model the employee to get the desired position depends on luck. For this he is to be persevering and always be in place at the right time. The ‘organization knows best’ model is based on the movement of the employee from one job to another according to the organizational requirements. This model is supported mainly by fresh employees, who are dependent on seniors for guidance, and less for the senior employees. The ‘self-oriented’ model provides importance to the employees. The model is based upon the employees planning for their own development during their career, while having the assistance from the organization.

There are two approaches to career planning process, depending on the emphasis on the needs of the organization or on the employee’s objectives. The first approach is the organization centered planning system which aims (i) the development of employees’ needs, (ii) improvement in the quality of th employees to increase productivity, (iii) defining of the career paths, (iv) individual potential of job evaluation, (v) harmonization of organizational and career needs, (vi) career counseling of work and life quality, and (vii) audit and control of the planning and career development system. The first approach is the person centered planning system which aims (i) identification of the potential, skills and interests of the employees, (ii) identification of the purposes of the employee’s life and his career goals, (iii) development of a written plan to achieve the employee’s goals, (iv) researching or seeking and obtaining the best career start, (v) communication of the career plan directly to the employee by his manager under whom he is working, (vi) request for career guidance, (vii) internal and external opportunities’ assessment, (viii) request for mentor or sponsor support, and (ix) promotion of their self-image or recognition of their own qualities.

Career planning responsibility of employees

The establishment of the extent to which the two sides (the employees and the organization) are responsible for the process of the career planning is an important feature of the process. On one hand, the employees are responsible for their development along the stages of their life and, on the other hand, the organization is involved in planning and development of the career of its employees which helps to improve the organizational environment and enhance employees’ satisfaction at work.

Responsibility of employees for career-planning – Theoretically, the career planning process focuses particularly on employee’s skills, abilities, needs, and aspirations. Given all these, the employee creates basic information essential for ensuring preparedness for a possible promotion.

Employee career planning can be defined as all actions of self-assessment, exploration of opportunities, establishing goals etc., designed to help the employee to make informed choices and changes about career. It is a complex action which needs systematic and careful thinking in formulating short and long term objectives.

Hence, career planning is based on the evaluation of employee’s skills, interests and motivation, on the analysis of organizational opportunities, setting goals for his careers and develops a strategy to achieve those goals. Employee’s career planning consists of five steps namely (i) self-assessment is the collection of information about himself (values, interests, skills), continuous assessment and reporting to others, (ii) exploring opportunities involves gathering information about existing opportunities within but also outside the organization (training and other development methods), (iii) making decisions and setting goals on short and long term for training requirements, change of job/department etc., (iv) planning consisting of determining the ways and means of achieving goals, taking the actions to achieve them, considering its consequences, setting deadlines and resource requirements, and (v) pursuit of achievement of goals, action by the individual accounts for his successes and failures and make decisions to retain or change career course.

Employee’s perspective on career is determined by the status of his professional and personal life, age, family conditions, financial expectations, and desired lifestyle etc. Some employees desires to be promoted to a senior position within the organization, while others want to take a new job in another organization, accepting new and different responsibilities by investing in developing new skills and acquiring new capabilities, reducing or increasing the number of working hours, or looking for jobs with a flexible working schedule. Fig 2 shows employee’s perspective for career.

Responsibility of the organization for career planning – An organizations is to ensure that the employees with appropriate skills are in the right positions. This is essential for the organization to be viable on short-term, or to maintain competitive advantage in the long term. The type and skills of the employees required are different and depend on the range of operation of the organization engulfing the economic sector, specific technology, and customers’ characteristics etc. Individualities of the organization affect the jobs structure, the types of recruited employees for each job, and the development of the employees on the job. In many organizations, there are available many promotion opportunities to certain types of positions (especially those involving unique skills to give value to the organization) and while there are limited opportunities for other positions. Hence, organizational career planning has a critical role in attracting, developing and maintaining of the employees. Without organization’s involvement in establishing, supporting and strengthening the careers of the employees, the organization cannot achieve the expected results at both organizational and individual level. Fig 2 shows organization’s perspective for career.

Fig 2 Employee’s and organization’s perspective for career

The system of career planning in the organization

Since, in the present environment, a large number of changes are taking place in the nature of employees and the organizations, the idea of developing a fixed career trajectory for employees have become somewhat outdated since there are very few persons who plan for long term. Careers are shorter and more unstable, job security is reducing and the short-term employment has become more common. Very few people are expected to continue with the same organization for a long time and most of the people change several jobs throughout their working lives and to participate in a variety of projects.

The reduced number of jobs available within the organizations and especially at the managerial levels has led to changes in the traditional route to an organizational career development. There are fewer promotion opportunities so that employees are being working on the same position for longer periods before being promoted. The traditional career path involved an upward mobility, giving to the employees the certainty of well-defined promotion pathways. Presently, the emphasis is on job rotation, multiple skills development and sideways promotion.

Designing and implementing of a career planning system is useful to the organizations for identifying the employees’ development needs and matching them to the organizational needs. The career planning system contributes to improved employees’ professional satisfaction since it helps the employees to identify and take positions consistent with their objectives and plans. From the organizational perspective, career planning system reduces the needed time to fill the vacancies, help succession planning, identify employees with management potential, and ensure to all the employees the opportunity to identify career goals and develop plans to achieve them.

The main components of the career planning process (Fig 3) includes four components namely (i) self-assessment, (ii) reality check, (iii) setting of goals, and (iv) planning of activities. However, it can differ in terms of complexity and of emphasis on its components from organization to organization.

Fig 3 Career planning process

The first component i.e. self-assessment assists employees in setting goals, values, skills and behavioural trends. Psychological tests are used to identify occupational and professional goals also self-quest is used to identify the employees’ preferences for different working environments such as operation, designs, and marketing etc., which contributes to identify the level of emphasis on work and leisure. Manager under whom the employee is functioning is often to assist employees in self-evaluation process and in interpreting of the test results.

The second component is the reality check. Through this component the employees are informed on how the organization assesses their skills and knowledge and which are the places the organization plans for them (such as opportunities for promotion, and lateral moves etc.). Normally, this information is not provided by the manager under whom the employee is functioning during the performance evaluation process. The discussion on career development is to take place separately.

The third component is the setting of goals. Through this component, the employees establish the short and long term career objectives which are related to concerned professional positions, the necessary level of competence, setting steps forward, and learning new skills. These objectives are discussed with the manager and recorded in the individual development plan.

The fourth component is the planning activities. During this stage, the employees determine how to achieve short and long term career goals. These plans can include attending lectures and seminars, applications to fill vacancies within the organization or participating in interviews.

The role of employees in career planning

Regardless of the type of the organization, the employees are to be actively involved in managing their careers, motivated of its beneficial effects on welfare from the economic and psychological standpoint. The economic standpoint can be understood that at the basic level, the work provides an income to the employees, which ensures their existence and their families and satisfies other interests, hobbies and recreation. Hence, career opportunities are a source of extrinsic (external) motivation for the employees. The psychological standpoint can be understood as a source of spiritual comfort since the work provides a sense of accomplishment and gives a meaning to the individual existence. Psychologically, career opportunities are an important source of intrinsic (internal) motivation for the employees.

The psychological connection between organizational management and the employees consists of all the expectations which the management and the employees have from each other. In general, the psychological connection emphasizes that the organization provides job security and promotion opportunities if the employee remains in the organization and maintains a high level of professional performance. However, due to the technological advancements, competition and changes in the social environment, psychological connections between the organization and the employees undergo changes. The organization may no longer be in a position to offer job security and promotion opportunities and the employees may be more interested in a job which offers challenges, diversity and opportunity for being creative. The employees are still interested in job security even if they realize that having a job within the same organization throughout working life is an unrealistic goal.

The new psychological connection suggests that employees can become more valuable to the organization by taking responsibility for their career planning. The organization which has structured career planning system expects from the employees to take responsibility for planning their own careers. The organization provides to the employees a crash course to familiarize them with the organization’s specific career system. The participation is voluntary and the employees are doing their self-assessment, identify their career goals and prepare their action plans. This follows with a discussion with the manager to whom they report and then they work towards reaching the targets. Some organizations develop and make available to employees a planning guide, which guides the development stages of self-assessment, target setting, development planning and action plan.

Regardless of the complexity of the career planning system, employees are to take certain actions consisting of (i) taking of the initiative in the sense of requiring feedback from peers and chiefs regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their skills, (ii) identifying the stage of career development and the development needs, (iii) seizing of all the every opportunities to learn, and (iv) interacting  with employees from different work groups within and outside the organization (e.g. professional associations, project teams).

The role of manager

Regardless of the type of the career planning system in the organization, manager has a key role in the planning process. Generally, the employee asks for advice on career to the manager under whom he is functioning since the manager is the one who determines the level of training and who assesses the employee’s ability for promotion. The manager is also the main source of information on job vacancies, training courses and other development opportunities.

Unfortunately, many managers are reluctant to engage in the employees’ career planning activities since either they do not feel prepared to answer questions related to the employees career or have a limited time allocated for these activities, or are not able to relate to a full understanding of the employees’ needs. For helping the employees in this process, manager is to demonstrate effectiveness as a coach, as an evaluator, as a counselor, and as a referral agent. The success of the manager- employee discussion about career is based on achieving the several aspects namely (i) the manager is required to form a complete picture of the employee’s work-related purposes and goals, (ii) the manager and the employee agree on the next steps for development, (iii) the employee understands the manager’s perception of his performance, development needs and career options, (iv) the manager and the employee agree on how the employee’ needs are satisfied with the present job, and (v) the manager identifies the resources to help the employee to achieve the committed objectives set out in their discussion.

A key role of a manager within an organization is to provide employees with career development training. The purpose of this type of training is to help the employees to consider various career options and make decisions for them. In return, the organization benefits from identifying the employee’s career prospects thereby can plan and provide the opportunities to achieve the goals. Outside the manager, the training can be provided by the human resource professionals within the organization. The trainer manager can help the employees to assume different roles within the organization such as (i) a trainer for the new employees, mentoring for potential successors, or leadership teams, or committees. Hence, employees perform their generative task, they share to others what they know, giving themselves what they received, thus showing care for the next generation.

One of the difficulties created by the flattening of career and lateral transfers is that the employee status is normally determined rather by the job, title, number of promotions and salary, and less by the performance, expertise, entrepreneurial and team spirit. Redefining the prestige and held position encourages the employees to remain in the organization and not to seek a job elsewhere or preferment.

The specific items of the manager’s role in career counseling are (i) designing and implementing systems and standards of performance assessment, (ii) role of helping to clarify the organizational opportunities developing and discussing options and directions for future development in the organization so that the employees can prepare and adapt to new requirements, (iii) analyzing present and future career plans, (iv) setting of goals since the manager occupies a unique position to assess and discuss the employee’s dedication to his professional goals and can refer the employee to assess his motivations and choices regarding career, getting actively involved in setting career goals and planning actions, (v) systematic encouragement and support of the employees during the implementation of the agreed strategies for career, and (vi) working with employees who feel stressed or unhappy at work such as interpersonal problems of the work place can adversely affect one’s performance. Training to develop communication skills and to find ways of conflict resolution can improve performance and it can keep the employee on his career path.

The role of the organization

The organization is responsible for providing the necessary resources to be successful in the employees’ career planning. These resources include (i) career workshops and seminars on various topics covering areas of the career planning system, self-assessment, or setting of goals etc., (ii) centres for providing information for career systems (or databases places where the employees can learn about job openings or training programs, (iii) career planning guides (printed matter for guidance of the employees which contain exercises, discussion and advice on career planning, (iv) career counseling (advice by a specialized professional in assisting the employees interested in career planning), and (v) career paths or directions such as planning job stages, identifying the skills needed for advancing within the same family of channels such as wireless promoting a technical professional position in a managerial position. The organization is also to monitor the career planning system for ensuring that both the manager and the employees use it properly and especially to assess how it is useful in achieving the organizational objectives.

Benefits of career planning

There are several benefits of career planning which includes (i) it makes full use of employees potential and strength, (ii) it reduces employees’ turnover, (iii) it enhances motivation of the employees, (iv) it improves the availability of competent employees, (v) it helps in the growth of the employees, (vi) it assists in the achievement of the goals and objectives, (vii) it aids in job rotation, (viii) it results into higher employees’ productivity, (ix) it supports job satisfaction of the employees, and (x) it has a positive effect on the production cost.

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