A career plan is a way of showing employees that the company values the work offered and that there are many opportunities for growth within the organization.
What is a career plan and why is it important?
The career plan is an instrument for organizing goals and paths that project the evolution of a professional in a company or in their career.
So, there are two ways to look at this plan:
- from the employer ‘s point of view , which outlines a path for the evolution of the employee’s positions within the company;
- from the perspective of the professional , who can either have an independent personal career plan or be linked to the company’s planning.
The importance of the plan for the employer
For the company, having a plan for its employees is important, because it helps to reduce voluntary turnover , that is, situations in which the employee resigns from the company.
A high turnover rate represents both a financial loss for the company and damage to its image.
This is because the entire process of firing and hiring a new professional to fill an open position is costly.
The time it takes a company to find a replacement can affect its usual productivity and impact the business.
In addition, if many professionals ask to leave the company, the impression that there is something wrong in the place generates distrust and drives away new talent.
Also, when the company prepares and implements a career plan, it shows its employees that there is a concern to make them grow there.
Among other things, this implies the company’s responsibility to offer training , ensure the presence of good leaders and adopt measures to train and improve professionals .
Factors that generate interest in professionals and motivate them both to stay and to do their best daily to achieve their goals and win promotions to higher positions.
Something that, consequently, leads the company to fulfill its own goals and have quality products or services.
This is because, once inserted in the company and having knowledge of its career plan, a professional develops in a way that is increasingly aligned with the local culture.
Thus, over time, the organization starts to have highly qualified leaders identified with its values, processes and goals.
The importance of the plan for the worker
It is true that the time when the common dream of workers in the job market was to have a long career within the same company is gone.
In general, there are still professionals who aspire to occupy leadership positions and, for these, the existence of a career plan in the company tends to be even more decisive for their permanence.
Anyone who intends to be a leader within an organization also needs to have their own plan with the goals they want to achieve for each deadline.
This is because it is not prudent to leave the task of architecting each step of the journey towards the achievement of personal goals in the hands of the employer alone.
When the goals of both parties are clear and well defined, it may even be possible to align the professional’s career plan with the company’s and create an even more interesting and beneficial situation.
It is this alignment, or even just the existence of the company’s career plan, that helps the parties understand what opportunities exist and how they can be taken advantage of for the benefit of the employer and the employee.
But what about when the employee doesn’t dream of being a leader? An article published in Exame magazine explains that “for many professionals, the lived experiences play a more central role than the weight of the position they occupy or the money they receive”.
This, however, does not make the career plan lose its strength and its importance in the path of the employee.
For these professionals, planning serves the same purpose as for others: guiding the best decisions to achieve personal goals .
Furthermore, the existence of this career plan helps the company to better understand how to take advantage of this professional’s talent and how to set goals with him to maintain and motivate him.
Different types of career plans
Creating a career plan consists of analyzing the current situation and the goals you hope to achieve .
From there, it is necessary to list the actions to be taken so that these objectives are achieved, defining appropriate deadlines.
Finally, it is putting into practice and following the evolution of the planning to adjust it as necessary.
Y career path
The Y-shaped career plan is usually better suited to companies that follow a more formal structure and that have very well defined roles and functions.
The letter “Y” refers to a fork that appears in the path of the rising professional, giving him the opportunity to choose between continuing as a specialist in the technical area of a sector of the company or as a manager.
For many employers, it is easy to understand the manager’s role in monitoring and guiding their subordinates , in order to ensure the achievement of the objectives set by the company.
Therefore, it is also easy to understand why value this option and make room for it.
It is interesting to point out, however, that it is the specialist – due to their theoretical and practical background – who is best able to present innovative solutions for the company.
Therefore, its role is also relevant and can make a difference for the organization to develop a differential that places it in a prominent position in the market.
Having a good understanding of these two possibilities of the Y career path helps the company to better analyze its talents to design its hierarchical climb.
In this process, understanding the profile and knowing what the planning or personal goals of each employee is, helps the most prepared professional to assume the position, whether specialist or manager.
W career path
In comparison, the W career path offers a third way that is nothing more than a junction of the positions presented by the Y plan.
We speak, therefore, of the possibility of the employee assuming the role of project manager .
This type of planning is less common because it works in more specific cases, such as the technology sector.
What happens is that the professional does not become a common leader, guiding the development of his subordinates, but a technical leader.
This technical leader has the function of punctually guiding the performance of employees in the execution of a given project.
In this situation, the project management professional does not need to stop “getting hands on” and starts, in parallel with this, to accumulate the function of temporarily commanding teams.
The career path in W is interesting, among other circumstances, when the company understands that it has a talent who knows its processes very well, but who does not have the profile of a traditional leader.
In other words, when you have a multitasking professional on your staff who, if you only had the two options of Y-planning, would be frustrated with your new assignments.
Network career path
Another type of career plan, which can be considered a variation of the Y plan, is the network plan.
In this case, instead of seeing only two options, the employee has a wider range of options for positions to be held within the company.
The idea is that the professional evolves from one position to another, considering their own abilities and interests.
For this plan to be put into practice, however, the definition of goals that determine whether the professional is able to advance or not in his trajectory is essential.
The existence of multiple paths for an employee to follow within the company even allows him to change from a technical to a management position and vice versa.
Something that gives you better opportunities to achieve your personal goals and find out which role you’re best suited to.
This type of career plan can be especially interesting for the aforementioned case of workers who do not seek leadership positions, but rather experience relevant experiences in their professional journey.
An alternative, therefore, for those who need to consider the profile of their employees in the face of the changes experienced by the job market in recent years.
How to build a career plan in 6 steps
Knowing the organizational structure of the company is essential to decide which type of career plan is the most appropriate.
So, before talking about the planning itself, it is necessary to design this structure to have clarity on how the company is divided hierarchically, since this is the basis of planning.
To do so, it is necessary to list the existing positions and even those the company considers necessary to create both the career plan and the achievement of goals.
Something that can be done based on the business organization chart , which is nothing more than the graphic representation of the hierarchical levels and their connections within the company .
Once the organizational structure is properly known, it becomes easier to follow the following steps for the creation and implementation of the career plan. Follow up!
1. Seek employee feedback
As seen, it is interesting for a professional to have his own career plan, aiming at the trajectory he has in mind.
Even if a company’s employees have not set goals for their careers, listening to them is an important part of the company’s career plan creation process.
This is because they experience the reality that helps them understand how a lasting professional experience can be built within the company.
In addition, knowing the ambition of each one of them helps to discover how to consider the profile of each one for planning.
The conversation also favors the understanding of each employee’s skills and understanding which roles they can assume as they train and achieve results in their day-to-day work.
This analysis makes the difference for the company to develop a career plan that is consistent with its reality and not a mere choice based on the type of planning that seems best, but does not work.
2. Define paths for progression
An intern can, yes, become an assistant, then an analyst and then, finally, a manager.
This is a simple example of career progression that must be thought of and adapted according to the characteristics of the company and its needs.
For planning, the company needs to design the possible paths for the rise of a professional.
In addition, it must define which criteria must be met or which goals must be achieved for a promotion to take place and the deadline for the possibility of changing positions to materialize.
It is essential that the definition of paths, positions and deadlines is adequate to the reality of the company and its employees. Also, be flexible to accommodate eventual changes.
3. Encourage improvement and invest in training
Every employee has weaknesses and strengths . Different from what it may seem at first, seeking conditions to occupy a higher hierarchical level is not just the responsibility of the professional.
In other words, employees are not the only ones who need to pursue their development in order to progress in their careers.
As seen, planning is important for the company because, among other issues, it allows it to count on professionals who have developed based on its culture, profile and objectives.
This only happens, however, when the employer creates opportunities to hone their talents so that they are as capable of leading the company to success.
For this reason, it is important that existing leaders are able to identify strengths to take advantage of and identify weaknesses to turn them into results.
Still, it is interesting to invest in training and qualification and improvement courses so that the professional feels more and more prepared to seek positions of greater responsibility and continue in the company’s staff.
4. Have clear goals and clear processes
When we talk about defining paths for career progression, we mention that professionals need to know criteria and goals to be achieved in order to change jobs.
These goals for professionals need to be aligned with the goals the company has for itself, based on its mission and vision .
And all this must be based on a realistic analysis so that a plan is not presented that gives employees the impression that it is not really possible to grow professionally in that organization.
In addition to defined goals, the company must ensure that employees understand the plan and know what they need to do to achieve their goals and what criteria are established.
Any failure in this understanding can cause frustration, affect motivation, harm the organizational climate and the organization as a whole.
5. Bet on feedback and re-evaluation
Clarity regarding the processes to be followed for professional advancement translates into assertive communication between the company’s leaders and other employees.
Feedback , especially when based on a good evaluation process , is an important instrument that helps the worker to understand where he is doing well.
In addition, it shows what still needs improvement to reach the goal, meet the criteria and deserve promotion.
Furthermore, it serves as a way of reminding each employee of the prospects that exist for their career and as opportunities to keep them motivated.
In this communication, receiving feedback is also important for the success of the career plan.
Listening to employees is not something that the company should do only to outline the plan , but also to reassess it and promote any necessary changes.
This is because, in practice, the scenario may be different from the theorized. Also, internal and external factors can change the dynamics and also the goals of the company.
6. About implementation
The steps presented above already include the implementation of the career plan. However, for the avoidance of doubt, it is important to point out a few points:
- the company must document its planning , making it official;
- internally communicating the existence and functioning of the career plan to leaders and employees is crucial so that it has the desired effects of motivating the search for results and reducing voluntary turnover ;
- the plan is not immutable. Whenever changes in the company’s structure occur, it is important to reassess it and, if necessary, restructure it;
- A career plan can be implemented at any stage of a company’s life, as long as the necessary assessments are carried out.
So that, in the medium and long term, the results are more interesting, the HR department must be responsible for evaluating the profile of candidates considering their personal plan in view of the company’s career plan.
Planning in young or rapidly growing companies
A career path—whether Y-shaped, W-shaped, networked, or otherwise—is easier to develop and implement when the company is past the high-growth phase or has a consolidated hierarchy.
In the same way that recruiters in the Human Resources sector ask professionals “how do you imagine yourself in five years?”, a company must be able to seek this answer to develop its planning.
It happens, however, that recent enterprises or those undergoing expansion periods coexist a lot with uncertainty, which makes it difficult to think about the medium or long term.
The difficulty, however, does not prevent an outline of a career plan from being traced internally.
Therefore, instead of presenting concrete opportunities of where each professional can reach in their trajectory in the company, the idea is to consider the possibilities.
Both to make this outline of the planning and to present it to those who apply for the vacancy or who already work in the company, it is important to clarify that, as the enterprise grows, new perspectives will form .