We’re certain you’ve heard the expression ‘people leave managers, not jobs’. At some point in our lives, we’ll leave a dead-end job – quite literally. The type of job where you’re promised exciting growth and development opportunities but encounter the opposite – repetitive work, few training opportunities, minimal career mobility, and only a slow, linear path to promotion. We get pigeonholed into particular roles or departments and, because we’re all ‘passive’ job-hunters thanks to technologies like LinkedIn, we’re more exposed to the alternatives – we’d rather move companies, start a business or return to study and switch careers entirely than wait around for things to change.
According to a study by Gallup, 50 per cent of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.” That doesn’t mean all managers are terrible people to work for; the problem is companies and managers aren’t good at setting career paths. In the same study, it was noted that engaged employees were more likely than their colleagues to say their manager helps them set work priorities and performance goals.
Here are three key steps to introduce or improve genuine career mobility when you are in employment.
1. Insist on frequent staff assessments
Understanding what motivates, and what doesn’t motivate, an individual is crucial when developing a career plan. And waiting for an annual review process to find this out, puts you at risk of losing them in the interim. Being an employee, feedback creates more impact when given immediately. It enables more timely changes and keeps employees focused and motivated to perform well to achieve important company goals. Employees are made accountable for reaching our goals, as well as managers for ensuring the company is delivering on its promise of career mobility.
2. Leverage technology to build pathways
To really allow people to ‘move’ within a company, technology is essential for talent management. Knowing how to convert that knowledge into a tangible development pathway for us is more difficult and this goes beyond HR Managers who know how to do to so. What qualifications or skills do we require to switch paths? Who offers it? What does it cost? How can I track results and ensure I am still meeting the needs of my current role? Career mobility isn’t hard to offer, but achieving it requires a consistent approach and effort from both parties. Technology that simplifies this process is a worthwhile investment.
3. Offer personalised, on-demand learning
Today’s learners expect the same from a learning platform as they do from Netflix or online shopping; personalised, self-curated and on-demand learning is key to giving us a sense of ownership to reach our development goals at the pace we decide, and in a way that keeps the employee motivated. Once you’ve established a framework that promotes career mobility, it’s important to empower each employee to see it through by giving them the autonomy to guide their own learning and development. When the future is tangible and not simply in the hands of a manager, we are more likely to stick around.
Few companies offer true career mobility, for instance, transitioning from account management to finance, or from recruitment into sales. But mostly, it’s because people won’t tolerate a company where they don’t see a future.