Help Employees Take on New Challenges and Prepare for Career Advancement
Career goals can vary widely among individuals. While some employees aim to take on a leadership or managerial role, others may be satisfied with lateral moves that give them the opportunity to learn something new. Goal-setting at every level encourages career advancement and can help keep employees engaged.
Today's HR professionals should work with business line managers to help implement customized strategies to assist their staff – from entry level through executive – to step into more challenging roles and responsibilities. Paychex HR professionals offer some considerations.
Prioritizing Career Development
As a starting point, career development should be made a priority on a company-wide basis. According to Robin Reilly, Senior HR Generalist at Paychex, managers at every level must be strong, supportive motivators, with the necessary skills to mentor their staff and help bring them to the next level. To help ensure career development is prioritized, performance evaluations may include specific criteria assessing current managers on how well they develop their staff. If needed, training can be offered to help new managers develop their leadership skills.
Tanya Johnson, Paychex HR Consultant, recommends allowing employees preparing for promotion to shadow a staff member with higher-level responsibilities. Johnson believes the employee looking for career advancement will discover best practices by observing how "the individual manages their workload, sets priorities, and schedules out their day." Shadowing can also give an employee a glimpse of the expectations of those working at a higher level.
Training at Every Level
Training is one of the best ways to offer opportunities for employees to add to their skills and improve their chance for a promotion. As Johnson notes, "Not all trainings have to be expensive. There are a number of online trainings and webinars available at either low cost or completely free." She suggests that classes focused on topics such as time and task management, presentation skills, effective negotiation, and leadership may be resourceful tools for those looking to progress into managerial roles.
Finding Opportunities for Future Leaders
Individuals seeking a promotion should be given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Robert Sanders, HR Consultant at Paychex, suggests placing the candidate in charge of a visible, short-term project, ideally six months or less in duration. Mentors can be assigned to provide guidance, but not supervisory direction. When in-house opportunities are scarce, Sanders suggests connecting the individual with an external volunteer organization in need of leadership skills. With ongoing communication between the outside organization and a company contact, leadership performance can be evaluated and feedback provided prior to in-house promotion.
As workplace focus shifts toward career advancement and personnel development, increased employee retention and satisfaction should follow. HR professionals can assist front-line managers by analyzing data through a technology platform used to collect and measure performance metrics. By comparing employee performance in individual departments to company-wide benchmarks, the HR team can make further recommendations and determine where improvement is needed.