1. Understand Your “Why”

The reason you decide to implement career growth opportunities is important. It will color every other element of your organization’s plan, and directly influence how employees feel and evolve throughout their experience.

You might have some logistical reasons for incorporating professional development plans. For example, it costs less to upskill employees than it does to hire new ones. It’s also less expensive to train and retain than recruit and onboard new workers.

From another standpoint, you can view career development as part of a greater part of your company’s culture. Creating opportunities to grow and develop fosters a deeper love of learning, collaboration, and innovation. Furthermore, it directly impacts employees’ mental health and happiness.

Here are some other reasons to create professional development paths for employees:

  • Career development paths clarify organizational structure
  • Advancing careers creates greater intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Professional development promotes a growth mindset
  • Career development helps employees maximize strengths through practical strategies
  • Greater professional development fosters better teamwork

Consider why you want opportunities to grow in your career. In reality, most employees are not eager to hop from one company to the other constantly. What they really want is a sense of achievement, acknowledgement, and appreciation. Establishing the right professional development pathways make that possible.

2. Create/Update an Organizational Framework

You know exactly how many employees you have and what they do. But how do they work together? And what might change if their careers evolve?

The goal of professional development paths is to help employees grow along with your company.

Every career within your company should have a clearly defined roadmap. The final destination is the highest position a person can achieve, but that’s not all; the roadmap encompasses different skills, responsibilities, and benefits that an employee has at each stage of their career within your organization.

Create an organizational chart that illustrates your company’s community. It should be a hierarchical diagram that shows who does what at each level and connects roles through a series of branches.

Even small businesses with a straightforward structure can still benefit from this process; it helps you clarify roles, responsibilities, and objectives. It can also help you set goals for careers if there currently aren’t any.

3. Define Every Open Job Position

One of the worst things that a company can do is hire someone for a role they can’t even define. People tend to oscillate between tasks and departments, often wearing many hats but never fully realizing their potential as an employee.

Placing too much responsibility on one person can lead to burnout; underutilizing someone else’s strengths can lead to frustration and, eventually, resignation.

The best way to retain your employees is to understand their value. This comes through clarifying job roles and making sure every position has a clean-cut purpose in your organization.

Keep this part of your professional development path planning short. You should be able to define each job in 3 or 4 lines.

4. Create Skill Trees

Skill trees lay out how an employee can progress throughout your company in a hierarchical manner. An entry-level employee will start at the bottom of the trunk, then slowly work their way up. Within the tree itself, they may “branch off” into other positions depending on what skills they acquire.

Or, they could simply come to encompass a broader skill set that allows them to take on greater responsibility within their department.

Usually, each role has several options when it comes to growth. There’s often not a single path that leads to the “ultimate” destination. For example, someone may serve as a marketing assistant, digital marketer, or even email marketing specialist before they enter management.

It’s not a matter of defining the role so much as the qualities required to fulfill it. If you have a hard time moving upwards, reverse engineer instead. Let’s say you want to take an employee from mid-level sales to corporate. How do you get there? Look at any knowledge and experience gaps between them and senior-level management. Then, work backwards to identify opportunities for growth and development.

It’s also completely fine if your organization has multiple career paths. The more, the merrier! Options empower employees. What matters is that you’re giving them the opportunity to shape their career in a way that’s meaningful and rewarding to them, as well as beneficial to your organization.

5. Figure Out Your Training Needs

Once you know where employees’ careers are headed, it’s time to tackle the big question: how do you get them there?

Personalized learning platforms make it easy for you to train on-site. At Juno Journey, we help organizations build individualized career paths that help motivate employees through personal advancement opportunities. All the while, we make upskilling accessible and fun through personalized content from more than 100 providers.

Every organization needs to trust the people training its employees. In fact, this stage of your career development planning might be the most time-consuming. Don’t be afraid to reach out to different department leads and ask for their feedback. Expert opinions will make it much easier for you to choose the best content and training materials that are affordable, accessible, and relevant to your goals.

In HR, the process of vetting training material requires a lot of organizational work. You need to not only consider time but budget constraints as well. Training employees is important, but not at the expense of fulfilling their current responsibilities. Likewise, the costs have to have a high enough ROI that it makes sense for the company to invest in development courses.

Some companies opt to pay for their employees’ training, while others offer reimbursement plans. You can consider which option is right for your company. If you’re looking for an all-in-one training hub, our platform can help you centralize your training across departments and career levels.

6. Start Individuating Career Plans

Every employee at your organization should have a personal roadmap for success. They may progress at different paces, but they all need to have a clearly defined journey throughout your organization.

Benchmarks will help you stay on top of each person’s progress. If they aren’t meeting them, ask why. Performance reviews will be a valuable asset when it comes to assessing employee growth. Once a year, you can identify what they’ve achieved, and pinpoint opportunities to help them advance.

Managers should also meet with employees to discuss their short- and long-term goals within the organization. Employees have to feel like they’re actively working toward something. Otherwise, ‘career development’ becomes nothing more than a shallow buzzword.

Another aspect to consider at this point is whether your managers also need training. Many companies have great managers when it comes to daily operations and business-centered objectives. However, they may have less experience when it comes to professional development. As a result, they may struggle to align their department’s performance with personal and company objectives.

In this instance, investing in management training can be a highly valuable decision. It also simultaneously helps you further the careers of your highest-ranking employees.

Remember to Stay Flexible

It can be difficult to advance careers if your roadmaps are too narrow or rigid. On paper, you may lay out a straightforward progression from one career position to another. The reality is usually much more nuanced.

Embrace each employee’s individual journey. Their path to a certain career level may be completely different from what you envisioned, but that’s okay. What matters most is that you’ve helped them by creating the opportunity they need to thrive given their own strengths, skills, goals, and unique learning styles.

7. Make Professional Development a Part of Your Company Culture

When everyone in the organization is onboard with growth, progression feels like a group effort, even when it’s personal. Rather than foster a sense of unhealthy competition, employees are inspired to build one another up. They root for one another, support each other’s ambitions, and don’t feel threatened if a colleague happens to move up before they do.

It’s not just about employees, either. Entire departments can benefit from broader professional development paths that are bespoke to their role and responsibilities. HR, accounting, marketing, development — every single group comprises a unique team that should have their own focus and purpose within your company.

Discover How to Fuel Career Growth with Juno

We know trying to create professional development isn’t easy, especially when you’re managing a large company and many different positions. We’ve created a platform that helps HR specialists like you create meaningful opportunities in one accessible place.

Why not check us out? Book a demo today!