Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It’s Personal: Creating Career Development Activities That Work - Tip #194

Career paths are very personal matters. No matter what companies' objectives are, the core of career paths is the employee's personal goals and benefits.

Career paths are just manifestations of what, where and how people are doing with regards to achieving their life goals. Having a solid career path helps direct their future aims.

Main Driver of Career Paths

An APA survey found that many employees don’t have enough time to work on developing or sharpening their skills or their employer isn’t providing ample career development activities.

Many companies struggle with employee development perhaps because they fail to realize something important: “Job-skills training is a shared responsibility between leaders and employees,” says David Ballard, PhD, assistant executive director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

And, whenever career paths are included in the initiatives of companies, they are inclined to be formalistic. They tend to focus on just the completion of some training activities, such as curriculum, tests and exams, that are irrelevant to learners and workers. They don’t care about completion of activities. They care about what they can do and learn today that will be useful and will prepare them for the future. Because at the heart of career paths are self-driven goals.

Preparing Learners for the Next Phase

For learners and workers, the key question is: “How prepared am I for my next tasks, goals and personal aims in my life?”

So our goal, then, becomes: How do we help people prepare for their next phase or next job or next important learning towards achievement of their personal goals?

This Fast Company article sheds some light on possible answers.

1. Identify your workers’ goals.
Your organization has a set of objectives that everyone is working toward. But employees also have their own ambitions, too. Ask them about their personal goals and match those with what the organization needs, advices performance improvement consultant Julie Winkler Giulioni, author of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

2. Incorporate career path activities in their daily work.
It’s not enough to know your employees' personal goals. It’s also important to find ways to incorporate learning opportunities in their day-to-day work.

“Even when there’s not a budget for a formal learning program, you can think about every opportunity as an opportunity to learn,” says Diane Belcher, senior director of product management at Boston-based Harvard Business Publishing. She suggests finding time for reflection and questions, as well as ensuring that leaders share their stories and coach others.

3. Give them autonomy and short-term experiences.
Allow workers to decide how they use their discretionary time. This means giving them leeway to pursue and develop the skills that interest them, suggests Sharon Reese, principal consultant with The Gunter Group.

Beverly Kaye, founder of career consulting firm Career Systems International, espouses

“career calisthenics,” which means “looking for mentoring or shadowing opportunities, stretch assignments, and other learning opportunities throughout the organization.” These short-term experiences not only promote employees’ growth and interest but also cultivate a corporate culture where development is expected.

Don’t Forget to Track Expertise

I spoke of a way to help leaners track their own expertise development here. Basically, allow and provide a way for workers to document what they find interesting in the moment. These interest areas provide insight into their learning preferences and help learners and workers build, track and monitor their incremental successes by capturing and discovering their insights as it happens. These insights are life-changing.


American Psychological Association. Supervisor Support Critical to Employee Well-Being and Workforce Readiness. October 18, 2017
Gwen Moran. How to Help Build Employees’ Career Paths So They Don’t Quit. Fast Company, November 3, 2017
Tip #69 - Reflections Impact Performance
Tip #71 - Freedom to Learn and Pursue One's Expertise
Tip #149 - How Microlearning Impacts Coaching and Behavior Change
Tip #181 - The Conversation Loop: Foster Learning Through Experience Sharing
Tip #182 - Curious Language Sparks Learning Engagement

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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