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How L&D teams can help build strong career pathways

How can your team help build strong career pathways for employees? We've compiled our suggestions below. 
Taylor Cole, Copywriter

In today’s world of work, there’s a stronger emphasis on growth and development than ever before. Employees are no longer simply settling for good benefits and a fair salary — workers are now seeking jobs that will help them learn new skills and move forward in their careers. 

However, research by Josh Bersin tells us that while the most impactful L&D practice is to deliver wide-ranging career growth options, only 17% of organizations are actually creating these opportunities for their employees. 

Pull quote with the text: only 17% of organisations deliver wide-ranging career growth options

Part of every L&D team’s purpose is to make learning and development easy and approachable for employees — and even though career development certainly takes time and effort, employees shouldn’t be struggling just to understand how or where to get started. 

So, how can your team help build strong career pathways for employees? We've compiled our suggestions below. 

Create and define career pathways for every role

If employees are going to move forward at work, they need to know where they’re headed. Employees are often left in the dark trying to come up with ways to achieve vague promotions that may or may not come with a title change, role change, or pay raise — and may or may not even exist in the first place. 

Creating and defining clear career pathways for employees shows them exactly what to reach for if they’re working toward a promotion in their current role, and it also tells them what roles exist if they’re exploring a lateral move to a new department. 

Pull quote with the text: Creating and defining clear career pathways for employees shows them exactly waht to reach for if they're working toward a promotion

While every organization will choose to communicate information about these pathways differently, a few factors you may want to consider include:  

  • Defining different levels within each role 
  • Creating job descriptions for each role and level 
  • Sharing compensation ranges for each level 
  • Describing promotion criteria. 

As an example, here’s what the different levels within a product marketing individual contributor role might look like: 

  1. Intern, Product Marketing 
  2. Associate Product Marketing Manager 
  3. Product Marketing Manager 
  4. Senior Product Marketing Manager 
  5. Director, Product Marketing 

Whatever additional information you choose to provide about each level is up to your team’s discretion. Once an employee has a clear idea of what role they are working toward, they can begin collaborating with their manager to determine what steps they’ll need to take to attain a new role. 

Train managers to discuss and support career paths

Managers are an incredibly important part of every team – and they may have more influence than they realize. According to CliftonStrengths, 70% of the variance in a given team’s engagement is determined by their manager

Managers play a much bigger role than simply organizing their team and keeping them on track. For many employees, their manager acts as their primary source of truth at work, their go-to for advice, and the most influential person they work with. So, if an employee wants to grow but isn’t sure how, having a manager who has the skills and tools necessary to support them will be vital to their career development journey.  

Managers should be familiar with the career pathways available for their team so they can direct their reports to those pathways and answer questions about various roles and levels. They should also be trained to help employees determine the steps they might take to achieve their career goals. 

Offering leadership development training for managers can help them have more productive conversations with team members, learn how to identify each team member’s strengths, and identify areas of opportunity accordingly. 

Promote a culture of growth

A culture of growth is essential to an employee’s willingness and motivation to explore new career paths within the organization. Whether upskilling or reskilling, employees should feel empowered to make changes in their careers. 

Pull quote with the text: A culture of groth is essential to an employee's willingness an motivation to explore new career paths within the organization

It’s important that employees who are considering moving into another area of the company can speak openly about this with their manager. They shouldn’t feel ostracized or looked down upon for leaving their team but should instead be given the freedom and support necessary for them to reskill. 

L&D teams can help promote a culture of growth and opportunity by creating job shadowing, mentorship, or coaching programs. Job shadowing allows employees to get a glimpse into a new role, enabling them to decide whether it might be a good fit. Mentorship and coaching programs can pair employees with mentors or coaches from another area of the company who can help them grow into a new role. 

Provide employees with learning content

To move through a career pathway, employees will need to continue learning new skills. Skills requirements are constantly changing with the rise of AI and other advances in technology. A 2021 Gartner HR Research poll found that 58% of the workforce will need to learn new skills to succeed in their roles. To keep up with our quickly developing world, employees must be provided with learning content. 

Providing the right content for the right learners can be tricky, so be sure to focus on content that is diverse, personalized, and accessible. Learners should be able to find content that applies to their role, provided in the learning style that works best for them, and they should be able to access this content in whatever way is most convenient. Learning content can strengthen your career pathways by enabling employees to receive the training they need to grow. 

For more insights, subscribe to the Go1 newsletter to stay on top of all the latest L&D trends. Or, you can book a demo today to find out how Go1 can help with your team’s learning needs. 

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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