Thinking Outside the Organizational Chart: Novel Ways to Encourage Employees’ Career Growth

Published: Nov 5, 2022  |  

Content writer with a passion for an imperfectly zero-waste

Investing in your employees means investing in your company. Employers who don’t nurture their staff’s future within the company have a lesser chance of employee retention. As of 2021, 36% of U.S. employees feel a positive connection towards their work and the teams they work with. So what do these managers do differently than the other 64%, and how can we implement their strategies?

They focus on employee career growth and development opportunities.

It sounds simple, but many companies fail to apply an employee growth plan because they fear their workers will leave them anyway. I don’t blame them for thinking this way. I’ve been job hopping since I graduated college back in 2013, and it wasn’t until now that I found a company that considers my future.

You can maximize any of your employee’s potential by supporting their need to grow professionally. When they feel like you value their future, they look forward to coming to work every day. Before putting money towards an employee’s career path, you must understand where their loyalty lies. For most talented professionals, it’s our professional development. So we tend to stay faithful to those companies that can provide us with ways to reach our career goals while meeting the company’s vision.

Learning is essential for every team member to grow and find fulfillment in their roles. Having a learning culture at the forefront of company values creates a snowball effect within the organization. As employees’ satisfaction increases, their feeling then cascades to their performance. These happy staff will then do their best to reciprocate the same—if not greater—value back to the company.

This chain of events alone can be critical to your company’s success. In order to activate it, discuss your employees’ career growth goals throughout their life cycle, both prior to joining your company and possibly after they have moved on from their present roles. Have a one-on-one performance review annually or even bi-annually, depending on your company’s needs. Or, you may encourage each team member to complete a monthly survey. Doing so lets you analyze how well your employees are growing and if they are still on the same page with the organization.

Communication is important in managing my own remote team as a content creator. Our interactions include quarterly planning, one-on-one check-up points, and weekly meetings with team members. This type of support allows everyone in the company to feel cherished and valued, even if we don’t have an in-person office setup. During our meetings, we discuss team skill gaps and career aspirations, so I can meet them halfway because the company can also benefit from their development.

It is also vital to talk about your employees’ potential career paths within your company to help them visualize their future. Identify areas where they need training and workshops, then set specific milestones to achieve them throughout their journey. This exchange of professional growth ideas among teams empowers every employee, impacting your business’s ROI.

Performance management is a continuous process that impacts team performance. Not only does it help build company employee relationships but also a culture of growth. For this reason, I regularly revisit my team’s progress to see if their path still aligns with their career goals. However, I ensure that I make further adjustments to address setbacks and changing priorities.

You can pair employees’ career goals with a performance plan. But it’s important to create realistic milestones so they won’t feel overwhelmed throughout the process. Then, monitor their progress using productivity tools to guarantee they’re still aligned.

Mentoring typically happens naturally during the onboarding session. But you can still use this tool to transfer skills and knowledge from versed employees to novice members. Since this collaborative learning experience is a two-way street, senior staff members can offer professional guidance to less-seasoned employees while learning fresh perspectives from them. Or have informal learning opportunities where a manager, for instance, can conduct a debrief with rookie employees after a project proposal with a client. Our brains thrive when we experience various challenges that allow us to learn. While a team member may grow by taking an online course, others may prefer mentoring and job shadowing. 

Climbing up the professional ladder takes time. But you can encourage your team members to continue their progress by recognizing and rewarding their efforts. I want my employees to understand that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. So on our weekly standup, each department leader has a chance to mention specific members that contributed significantly in the past week. This motivates them to take inspiration from others and participate actively to reach the company’s mission.

Rewarding and recognizing your staff’s performance develops their careers and your own business in tandem. Positive reinforcement is key. People want to work for a company that allows them to advance their careers within the organization because they know that they can still reach their career goals.

Some employees want to scale up the hierarchy, while others desire a more horizontal approach. So for someone who is content in their current level but wants to seek other career paths, let them experience working for different departments. I find rotation programs highly effective because they allow employees to broaden their experiences. That said, it might cause some members to either slack off because their strengths are not challenged or to grow listless because they did not land in a position to which they are well suited. For this reason, if you implement such a program, you must be vigilant in ongoing assessments as well as flexible about outcomes and strategy. 

There are many ways to develop our employees’ need for career growth. But sometimes, learning opportunities disguise themselves. All it takes is for one supportive leader to think outside the box to make a difference within the company’s culture, changing lives and bottom lines for the better in the process.

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