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  • Writer's pictureAJ Cheponis

How To Create Compelling Career Paths

Career pathing is essential to any talent-optimized organization. When companies are committed to growth and maturity, they need career opportunities for their employees that will enable and empower them to take the business to the next level.

According to the 2022 Employee Engagement Report, lack of adequate career pathing is one of the top 10 drivers of turnover intent. In order to avoid losing your best people, here are three easy tips for creating compelling career paths for your employees.

1. Plan for the organization you want to build.

Hiring can be a stressful activity. Regardless of whether your company is hiring for additions to headcount, backfilling, or accounting for turnover, just-in-time hiring doesn’t always allow for strategic forethought.

Before thinking about what you’re hiring for today, take a moment to meet with key stakeholders across the business to determine what you’ll need for the future.

What are your organization’s future needs?

Your business strategy is looking far ahead, and you’ll need the right talent to get you there. When thinking about hiring, talk with your stakeholders about forecasting while keeping that strategic execution in mind.

For example, your current state might be rapid growth. You’ll likely need a lot of immediate hires with enterprising qualities who are driven, less daunted by risk, and quick to act. But once you’ve reached a certain level of success and maturity in your business, you’ll need to introduce more stabilizing qualities to the mix, like bringing on sales operations professionals to support your sales team.

Treat future job openings the same as you treat current openings.

When your stakeholders hire for their current needs, collecting behavioral and cognitive data to ensure job fit is a best practice. This should also be done for future job openings—whether it’s additions to headcount for the same role or potential promotions to leadership positions. Having a strong understanding of the behavioral and cognitive demands of each future job will give you the ability to map out where your organization will be.

2. Encourage internal mobility.

Your existing employees can be your best sources of hire. After all, your employees know your business and know its culture—and they’ll reinforce that culture as they grow with the company. And those high-performing employees you want to keep? If they don’t see internal opportunities, they’ll find the right opportunities elsewhere.

Use people data to your best advantage.

When new opportunities open up, communicating those opportunities will likely garner interest from internal employees. In order to have a clear idea of whether an internal candidate will be successful in this new role, using people data is essential.

If an employee who’s struggling or unhappy in their current role is looking to make a move to a new team or department, having objective behavioral and cognitive data to make an informed decision on whether or not that move will benefit all involved is essential.

For example, an inbound salesperson who has recently plateaued in performance has shown signs of disengagement. This employee is naturally wired to drive results, connect with people, and work independently. When an outbound sales position opens up, it’s clear the behavioral demands of the job would better align with the employee’s natural strengths.

Make it easy for employees to move around.

When those right opportunities do arise, make it easy for your internal employees to take advantage of that career growth. Communicate internal opportunities early and often. Establish a known process for expressing interest in an internal role and expectations for hiring managers who may be interested in hiring an internal candidate. At many client companies, internal hiring is treated the same as external hiring—including the same process for interviewing. There are no surprises for anyone involved, which makes the process fair and easy to navigate.

How to Career Path

3. Be open to redefining existing roles.

There are two types of job descriptions: The one an employee has on the first day and the one their job turns into over the course of time. Job descriptions don’t remain constant throughout the role’s lifespan and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Not everyone wants to move up the ladder.

But that doesn’t mean they want to stop growing. If an employee comes to you and wants to discuss their lateral opportunities—or other learning and development activities that will help them reach their personal goals—embrace it. If an internal move isn’t on the table, redefine an existing job description to better align with the employee’s strengths and the organization’s needs. Sometimes, all it takes is a job description refresh to motivate an employee at risk of disengagement.

Redefined roles can open up new leadership opportunities.

In a fast-paced environment like start-ups, roles are redefined all the time. And, as a result, new leadership opportunities are created on a regular basis.

When you redefine roles, you also shape leadership opportunities you may never have previously considered. Be open to redefining roles to better reflect employees’ day-to-day responsibilities, their strengths, and their interests.

Above all, creating compelling career paths is as much about the employee as it is the organization.

When those two components are aligned, magic can happen. Employees want to know there’s a future for them in the organization so they can become invested and engaged. The more engaged your employees, the better your business results. So, why not start career pathing today?

How to keep your best people from leaving

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