As a lifelong manager on the technical side of businesses, I became well aware of the rewards to be appreciated from having formal career plans for direct reports. Our talent represents one of our most valuable assets in our businesses. Costly? Yes. Necessary? You bet. Investing in career development is one of the best investments a business can make.
There are a number of downsides to not having a career development plan for our staffs. Technical professionals are always eager to build on their knowledge base. Without a formal plan, the likelihood of it happening is doubtful. It is a company’s morale obligation to see that these people receive the help they deserve to meet this goal. Benefits gained through this learning process result in returns to the company (e.g. an increase in knowledge breadth and depth). Not providing this opportunity for the staff will result in atrophy of technical knowledge to the detriment of the company competitively.
What enables success? The planning process should be a collaborative effort between an individual and his/her manager. It should take into consideration the individual’s professional goals and those of the business. It should focus on where the state of current technology is and where it is going.
Technology continues to grow at light speed. It is everything a business can do to keep pace with such growth. And what enables businesses to successfully harness technology? It’s people. Not keeping up with technology growth will definitely result in anything from inferior products to the death of the business. Therefore, not keeping up with attracting and retaining talented employees will hurt the business.
And technical talent has choices. Retention is one of the most difficult challenges for management. The new breed of technical resources will not stand for stagnation. They demand, and rightly so, to be provided the opportunity to keep pace with innovation. If they do not receive it, they will just go elsewhere to find it. There is a high demand for qualified individuals.
So my advice is to take stock in the resource set you presently have, determine any shortfalls in knowledge and/or skills, put a plan together by collaborating with the direct report and observe a significant change in morale. You might want to think about employing the services of a professional career service; someone who has made a life of coaching.
Career coaching is a part time role for the typical line manager. Helping staff members manage their careers within the organization shows the company’s loyalty to the staff. In turn, it can create staff loyalty to the company. As loyalty grows, the relationship between manager and staff will be strengthened and retention will take care of itself. A loyal employee is not only more apt to stay, but will also have higher motivation and productivity. It’s a win-win.
Ron Rakip began his career in systems at MIT where he participated in the well-known Multics Project. He left academia and continued his work at commercial enterprises including Honeywell Information Systems where he played a major role in the development of High-Speed Non-Impact Printing Systems, Fidelity Investments and Iron Mountain Digital. Most of those years were spent in line and middle management positions of various disciplines. You can reach him at email@example.com.