Imagine this: When I recently caught up with John, the president of a large manufacturing company, he dropped a bombshell when he told me, “We don’t create a career plan for every employee. Who has the time? The smarter people figure out how to get ahead here. Nobody’s complaining.”
But here’s the kicker – when I asked John about the most promising people in his company, he could name some. He said, for example, “One is a woman named Christine, a sales superstar, heading for the stars. We might toss a promotion her way next year.”
Wait, what? John had a plan for Christine, had one all along, but he was keeping it under wraps, like a classified mission. Was he trying to turn it into a mystery novel? I’ll never know, but it’s time to unveil the secrets of personal career maps and retire this kind of mysterious plan-keeping routine that might have taken hold in your organization.
So, here’s the riddle of the day: Why haven’t you sat down with every member of your team and crafted personalized career maps for everyone?
By “everyone,” I mean the folks who aren’t just stopping by for a fleeting coffee break, or temporary or seasonal employees. I mean the ones you’d love to keep around. Instead of letting these ambitions stay locked in your mind like John’s undercover promotion scheme, why not sit down with each member of your team, uncover their aspirations, and co-create individual career maps to guide them through your organization’s maze?
Transforming Your Organization, One Career Plan at a Time
Personal career maps are your secret weapons to ignite, captivate, and retain your dream team. Here’s a rundown of some steps to take.
Make a career planning session part of your onboarding process . . .
When you onboard new employees, don’t just toss them an employee handbook and wish them the best. Dive into conversations about their career dreams. It’s like sprinkling a dash of loyalty glitter on their onboarding journey. And consider taking these steps when you are recruiting and interviewing potential new employees. If you do, you will show them that your company offers an exceptional opportunity.
Ask questions to unearth your employees’ passions, skills, and long-term aspirations . . .
This isn’t only about your company’s growth. It’s about their personal journey. Where do they envision themselves in one year, two years, or beyond?
Talk about your company’s culture and mission . . .
Open up about what your organization treasures most. Is it great customer relations, teamwork wizardry, entrepreneurial spirit, a social mission, or something else? When your team grasps these secrets – which should not be secrets at all – they feel like they’ve got a more focused map on how to achieve success. And some of them will fully buy into your company’s mission. Those employees are the ones you really want on board.
Find ways to empower employees to reach their personal goals in your organization . . .
Get inventive in helping people reach their goals. If someone’s a social media maestro, for example, hand them the social media throne. Put them in charge. If they dream of climbing the managerial ladder, introduce them to your management training program. Your company can become the stage where they act out their own lives.
Use some mentoring magic . . .
Why not pair each employee with a mentor or coach? It’s like having a personal cheerleader who believes in their journey with your company. Teamwork makes dreams come true. And remember, mentors don’t have to be people who outrank the employee you are developing. A manager of another department or the owner of a different franchise can be a masterful mentor too.
Invest in great, ongoing training . . .
Don’t skimp on it. It equips your team with the tools and skills outlined in their career development plan. It’s like providing them with a treasure map and the X to mark the spot.
Keep the process alive . . .
The development of a career plan should evolve through regular check-ins to keep plans fresh and evolving. It’s like an ever-enthralling, multi-episode Netflix series customized to their career adventures.
A Little Extra for the Millennials
I have found that millennials adore individual career plans. Offer them a roadmap to success, and they’ll be the happiest, most engaged bunch in your office. It’s like handing them the GPS for the company’s career autobahn.
When your team can boldly declare, “I’ve got this, I know the path to success here,” they turn into unstoppable forces in your organization.
So, let’s get rid of the secret plans and unleash the magic of personal career maps for a happier and more motivated team.
As author, speaker and entrepreneur, Evan Hackel has been instrumental in launching more than 20 businesses and has managed a portfolio of brands with systemwide sales of more than $5 billion. He is the creator of Ingaged Leadership, is author of the book Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generation and is a thought leader in the fields of leadership and success.