Career Planning: The Employee's Role in Driving Their Own Success

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Career Management

Career Planning: The Employee's Role in Driving Their Own Success

In the first part of this series on career planning, we talked about the role organizations play in developing employees. Organizations, specifically managers, have to create the foundation for career planning success. But that doesn't mean the company should assume all the responsibility.

(Confidential to all employees out there: this story is for your organization's HR leadership, but there are some rich nuggets to mine for your own career. Read on!)

Did you know that employees are an equal partner in their own career planning? Remember the definition of career planning is "the process of matching career goals with capabilities." That can't happen without employee involvement.

Three skills employees need to become better career planners

If we view career planning in terms of employee career stages (i.e. early, mid and late), this provides employees with a roadmap of the skills they should consider developing. Keep in mind early career could be defined as an employee's early career with the company, with a team or in a particular role. The same holds true for mid and late careers.

Here are three different skills that employees can use to drive their own career plan and complement what the organization is doing:

1. Self-Awareness

The first step to successful career planning is knowing where the employee wants to go with their career. A word of caution: These career dreams have to originate from the employee. It might be tempting to "talk an employee into" or "strongly encourage" them to take a role, but that could lead to employee disengagement and turnover. The solution is for employees to gain an understanding of what they enjoy doing and start developing opinions about their future. Then, they can share with their manager (or a prospective employer) their unique career aspirations.

Never talk an employee into a new role unless you like disengagement and turnover! @sharlyn_lauby
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2. Problem Solving

Speaking of solutions, every once in a while, we get stuck in our careers. Maybe we're not moving up as fast as we would like. Or we're trying to figure out whether to get a certification or a degree. And, we don't always want to talk it out with a manager or human resources. Employees need to know a personal problem-solving model that will allow them to work through issues on their own. On a side note, having an employee who can use a proven problem-solving model isn't a bad thing for the organization, either.

3. Decision-Making

This final thought aligns with the two points above (self-awareness and problem solving). At some point, employees need to make the final decision where their careers are concerned. And they need to make that decision in a way in which they're comfortable. Employees need to know how and when they like to make decisions. Ideally, they should share that information with the company so when they're presented with an opportunity, the employee's reaction is somewhat predictable.

If organizations aren't already doing it, they might want to consider adding some career planning related questions to their interview process for both internal and external hires. Some sample interview questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a big decision. What was it and how did you go about making it?
  • Describe the process you use when you have to solve a problem. How did the process help the final solution?
  • Share a situation where you learned something about yourself. What was the situation and what did you learn?

Employees take the lead in career planning

Organizations are very involved in the process of career planning, but that doesn't mean they can drive the results. Employees need to understand themselves and decide what they want their careers to look like - both short and long term.

It's also the employee's responsibility to communicate those goals to management. Ultimately, that's how managers can support the employee and their plans for the future.

The State of Succession Planning

Find out how top organizations are identifying, assessing and developing succession planning programs.


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Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The State of Succession Planning

Find out how top organizations are identifying, assessing and developing succession planning programs.


Free Download


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