Blog Post

The Modern Employee Journey

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Remember when you knew climbing the career ladder at your company was all about hard work and dedication within your area of expertise? You know, you started in an entry-level role in your chosen profession and worked your way up the chain of command to advanced and higher paying positions.

No? To be honest, I don’t either, but I do know that I continually run up against talent development and talent management programs that are still geared to this model. These same teams then they wonder why they have:

  • Constant turn over
  • Lack of bench strength
  • Negative Glassdoor ratings
  • Low engagement scores
  • And the list goes on and on

The Employee Journey Has Changed

The proverbial career ladder has been long gone for a while now, and we are now seeing the rise of employee journeys that look more like subway maps than a path up the mountain.

With wages stagnating and organizations flattening, “job hopping” (what a severely outdated term!) is here to stay. Organizations want people who bring more and more to the table as new roles are created and old roles are redefined. They want people who have cross-disciplinary experience. People who can bring diverse professional knowledge to help fuel innovation. Currently, the majority of the US workforce has to gains this knowledge by taking on new roles at new organizations.


As you can see these modern job requirements create a new world for employee development that many in Talent have yet to plan for. For example, a current job posting listed on Indeed is looking for someone who has at least 5 years of call center experience, experience with internal and external engagement programs on a global scale, and has 5+ years of leading Fortune 500 marketing teams. Most organizations don't have an internal candidate pool deep enough to meet modern job requirements like these, and they have to look externally for candidates.

Mind The Gap

How do we fix this? We start by developing employee career journeys that allow employees to move from one role to the next based on their strengths, not their divisions. We have to discover what traits, strengths, drivers, and competencies allow a person to be successful in a role. We then have to start the hard work of creating employee journeys that support and reinforce the development of those strengths.  

I still believe there is a definite need for role and industry-specific technical and strategic skills. However, that can’t be our only focus. Talent development and talent management have fallen behind. We must stop blindly following outdated performance and career pathing models that only support linear career development. We have to focus on supporting and developing flexible, big picture employees who can adapt and succeed in the ever-changing world of work.

About the Author

I love what I do because I help people thrive at work.

I am the founder of the Combs Cantu Group, a woman owned talent development firm in Austin, TX. The Combs Cantu Group is a transformation agent that works with organizations to build, implement, and stabilize learning processes, programs, and systems that reinforce a positive employee experience and drive business results.

My leadership style is collaborative and empowers others to contribute while generating positive business results. I thrive in environments that focus on innovation, collaboration, and results.

I am a current National Advisor for Chapters, and a former President, for the Association for Talent Development. I have worked in global Learning and HR leadership capacities for Fortune 500 companies such as Continental Airlines and Whole Foods Market.

1 Comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Tracie, thank you for this post. I used to think my "subway map" of experience was a problem to be overcome but now I see that it's given me a well-rounded skill set while helping me hone my true talents and gifts. I want to change the way people define, show up and do their work and I think focusing more on traits, strengths, drivers and competencies would be a step in the right direction in engaging employees and optimizing organizational performance.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.