Career Planning Activities: Addressing the Need

Posted by Judy Fort on August 31, 2017

Coworkers at a table

Career Planning

Career planning offers your employee the opportunity to grow with their current role, but also plan towards their future with your company. Career planning activities include:

  • Bridging skill and competencies gaps
  • Letting employees know their areas for growth
  • Providing training and development opportunities
  • Measuring growth against goals
  • Understanding current/future role in company

A part of career planning includes working with employees to establish career paths (where applicable for that employee).  These need to be something the manager is able to discuss with the employee, following the guidelines below for the best results:

  • Plan of 3 to 5 years in duration.
  • Include both lateral moves and promotions.
  • Encourage regular reviews between the manager and employee.
  • Have employees as active participants in selecting jobs on the path.
  • Creating supporting development plans.
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes over time.

It is also important to listen to your employees and take their feedback into consideration.  This encourage engagement, positively impacts attrition rates, improves job satisfaction, contributes to overall business success, and demonstrates support of your employees.

Development Plans

A development plans is a set of action items that guide employees to meet goals, which can target areas for improvement or provide growth opportunities.  Development plans should have set deadlines and clear definition of expectations, and should be continuously monitored and adjusted as the employee’s needs change.

Components of a development plan should include clear objectives, deadlines, continuous check-in and feedback, assignment of resources (learning courses, books, mentors, etc.), and the employee as an active participant.

By cultivating your employees’ development plans, you can positively impact employee retention, job satisfaction, and business success.

It is important to support managers in developing their employees to avoid them not taking action for any of the following reasons:

  • Too much pressure on immediate results
  • Process too complicated and time-consuming
  • Simply no time
  • What if we invest all of this time and effort in the employees and they then leave?


  • Learning can be motivation for employees, but simply offering training may not be enough.  Your mentoring and development opportunities need to tie into learning to motivate employees.  Learning programs help with employee engagement by helping employees become empowered, able to grow, interested, aspiring in the their role, and invested in the company’s future. And, learning has a positive impact on employee engagement as well, with:
  • Better engagement between employees
  • 59% of employees feeling work brings out their most creative ideas
  • 87% of employees not feeling compelled to leave

Training offerings can composed of several different types of training, including required new-hire training, required annual compliance training (safety, security, harassment awareness, policies/procedures, etc.), department-specific training, competency-based courses, and developmental training courses. Whatever type of training you offer, keep this in mind:

  • 70% of development happens on the job
  • 20% is through mentoring and coaching
  • 10% is through formal learning which includes instructor led workshops and e-learning courses

Mentoring Relationships

Mentoring is a partnership because there are obligations, implicit or otherwise, that each person takes on. But in order to be a successful mentor (and mentee), you have to be aware of your obligations and take them seriously.  Guidelines for mentors in a successful relationship include being committed, being able to always play both roles, helping their mentor whenever needed, listening, and caring about the relationship.

Succession Planning

While succession planning often times is done to reduce risk to the company in the event that someone leaves, there are also development opportunities available to employees who are on succession plans.  Some benefits include:

  • Identifies and cross-trains on knowledge.
  • Offers challenging work assignments that lead to new skills.
  • Reduces risk.
  • Shows employees that their development is a priority.
  • Produces happier and more productive employees.
  • Prevent the departure of key talent.

Additional Resources

Not all development has to happen within the company, and in some industries there are great outside resources available to employees.  You can assist by keeping employees aware of industry experts who may be presenting in the area, blogs that publish valuable content, or professional organizations they can join.