According to recent research conducted by Glint, part of LinkedIn, employees who are given opportunities to learn and develop at their organizations are 3.5 times more likely to say they believe their company can help them meet their career goals and nearly three times more likely to say they expect they’ll be with their organization in two years.
In their April 2, 2020, Harvard Business Review article, “4 Behaviors That Help Leaders Manage a Crisis,” Chris Nichols, Shoma Chatterjee Hayden, and Chris Trendler write about how the roles of business leaders had changed in just the few weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. “Before COVID-19, CEOs and other executives in high-growth companies were focused on fostering innovation, driving revenue, and gaining market share. Today, many of those same leaders must make rapid decisions about controlling costs and maintaining liquidity. They may encounter unforeseen roadblocks—supply chain issues, team shortages, and operational challenges—that drastically alter the scope of their roles and priorities.”
They also must, the article continues, support employees who have their own issues in working remotely and juggling family-work issues while laboring through those same issues themselves. Employees are craving development opportunities and leaders absolutely need to be at the top of their games today. Career thinking and development have never been more important!
Career and leadership development is one of the 23 capabilities in the ATD Talent Development Capability Model, and resides in the Developing Professional Capability domain. The capability model asserts that creating a culture of career development in an organization is a competitive advantage. But what does a culture of career development look like in practice?
Some of its elements are apparent, says thought leader and author of Unstoppable You: Adopt the New Learning 4.0 Mindset and Change Your Life Pat McLagan—for example, transparent job posting and selection, career conversations between managers and direct reports and sponsors, career exploration tools for all employees, clarity of multiple career paths, and a credible individual development planning process.
But some facets of the culture of career development aren’t necessarily so overt. Career and leadership development also includes, as Pat McLagan notes, a “really rigorous hiring process, HR planning that focuses on emerging skill requirements, learning agility, and important capabilities for all career paths. Also, it’s important today to recognize and reward critical skills and contributions on specialist and functional career paths as well as toward general management.”
The Talent Development Professional’s RoleBeing effective at career and leadership development requires talent development practitioners to be able to create and support processes of interaction between the organization and the individual so that an employee can grow within the organization. TD professionals also need to understand the specific skills and capabilities an organization needs now and in the future so they can support what is important as they develop assessments, programs, and pathways to advance employees within the organization.
A TD professional with capability in the career and leadership development area needs knowledge of:
- How to develop and implement qualification programs—career development methods and techniques (for example, job rotations and stretch assignments)
- Career models and paths (such as vertical, horizontal, project-based, and matrix)
- Leadership development practices and techniques (for example, formal training programs, job rotation, and coaching or mentoring)
Additionally, an effective TD professional needs skill in:
- Developing, administering, and debriefing the results of assessments of intelligence, aptitude, potential, skill, ability, or interests
- Facilitating the career development planning process (for example, helping employees identify needs and career goals and preparing development plans)
- Conducting individual and group career planning sessions to provide guidance across career phases (such as onboarding and job changes)
- Sourcing, designing, building, and evaluating leadership development experiences
Current Reality Looking ForwardBecause the pandemic is accelerating changes that are revolutionizing how work is done and affecting many people’s careers, learning and career development is more important than ever. Many employees are using this time to learn new skills. That’s a positive. But TD professionals can help employees take their learning a step further. The time is now to help employees update their learning skills and mindsets so that they will be able to change with the times and co-evolve with technology, says McLagan.
It’s a good time to reinforce to employees that work is changing, she continues, and it’s a good time to brush up on foundational skills besides learning, such as communication, feedback, and decision making. TD pros also can aid employees in thinking “about the skills requirements of their jobs today, changes they think will happen in the future, and the implications of these for their work and career plans,” concludes McLagan.
While the C-suite needs to keep empathy and listening skills front and center to support their employees and their customers, TD professionals need to demonstrate both as well so they can best partner with senior leaders. TD professionals can do this by listening to leader concerns about people today, in the next year, and in the future. They also need to help leaders understand how career and leadership development impact the organization’s ability to move into a fast-changing future, adds McLagan. Bringing new scenarios of work and the workforce to leaders will be vital to ensuring a competitive and engaged workforce and an agile, innovative, and thriving enterprise.