Mapping the employee development journey

Two experts explain how HR can effectively plan career paths, ensuring employees have everything they need to progress within the organization

Mapping the employee development journey
In today's competitive talent marketplace, attraction, engagement, and retention of talent, at all levels of the organization, are key to organizational performance and sustainability. Integrated talent management and a focus on developing employees for future roles is increasingly important for Canadian organizations.

Career pathing is a systematic approach to career development that enables employees to map multiple career path scenarios, review role competencies, evaluate skills gaps, and plan for development. A well-designed career pathing program or process can support organizational success through increased loyalty and commitment from employees and the development of an experienced and skilled talent pool to fill future roles.

Employees today are taking a much more proactive approach to their career development. Rather than following the traditional climbing the corporate ladder approach, they are instead navigating more complex lattices, looking for lateral, upward, and even at times downward career development opportunities.

In a recent publication, Career Pathing: Mapping Out the Employee Development Journey The Conference Board of Canada profiled three Canadian organizations who are taking unique approaches to developing employees for the future. Ensuring employees have the information and resources they need to map a career within their organizations.

Keys to Success

These organizations shared the following keys to career pathing success:

Create a solid business case: Ensure the proposed career pathing program supports and aligns with an identified business priority, such as employee retention, engagement, or succession.

Take the time to plan: Identify the structure, elements to be included, and how the program or tool will meet both employee and organizational needs.

Involve employees in the design process: Create focus groups, listen to employees, understand where the tension points are, and use the language of employees in the program.

Don’t try to do it all in one step: A staged approach allows for more communication and increased interest; as well as the opportunity for course correction along the way.

Build a career path for the future, not just today: Look at the long-term strategy of the organization to ensure sustainability well into the future.

Have a communications plan: Determine how to communicate key messages early on and use bite-sized communications to help engage and educate employees and managers.

Be aware of competing priorities: Don’t try to launch a program when employee and management attention is diverted elsewhere – plan to launch at a time when you can capture the interest and engagement of all stakeholders.

Start at the top: To be truly successful, career pathing – and the philosophy of moving employees throughout the organization for development – must be supported and driven by the executive team and executed by front-line managers.

Having career paths that set out the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to advance in a specific area, and a map for how to get there, enables employees and managers to have more productive career development discussions. Armed with organization-wide career path information, the scope of the development discussion broadens to opportunities across the organization rather than advancement within a specific functional area.

By developing and implementing a career pathing program that is integrated and aligned with the organization's overall talent management strategy and corporate strategic priorities, organizations can improve their talent pipeline, improve employee engagement and retention, increase their competitive positioning, and improve their overall corporate performance both now and into the future. 

To learn more about our findings in Career Pathing join our webinar Mapping the Employee Development Journey: A Case Study for Career Pathing on April 18, 2017 at 2PM ET


Stephanie Burgetz,
Sr. Network Manager/Sr. Research Associate, Learning, Leadership and Organization Research
The Conference Board of Canada

Simon Cotsman
Research Associate II, Leadership and Learning Research
The Conference Board of Canada


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