Is there a “right time” to introduce a career strategy? One question that I’m regularly asked by business leaders is this:
“We want to have a career strategy, but we don’t know what our business will look like in six months’ time. Would it be better to wait?”
I understand the question, and the associated confusion we see around where to start when creating a skills-based organisation. But the answer from me is always a polite but firm … “No”.
It’s true that many organisations face real uncertainty around their markets, business model and the relevance of the products and services they sell. Yet when the shafts of clarity finally shine through the clouds of doubt, how will you want your people to think and act?
Will you want them to move with uncertainty, hesitancy and fear from old point A to new point B? Or will you want them to feel, whatever the weather, that they will have the tools to tackle the challenges and opportunities faced?
At one of our popular virtual roundtables earlier this month, Rakhee Unadkat, Associate Director, Global Talent at EY showed how their organisation had seized the moment and embedded a significant new career model and talent marketplace to meet its future needs. And we at The Career Innovation Company showed how career models, sometimes associated with complex terms and concepts, can in fact be explained visually with great simplicity, to make them understandable to everyone. This can mean describing careers in terms of pathways, a spectrum of possibilities, or developing career experience maps.
The right approach will be different for each business – in the end it’s their impact that really matters – and to us, a career model is a means of representing possible career movements within an organisation. It helps employees to:
- Understand the career possibilities and options available to them.
- Make informed career decisions, in line with their aspirations and abilities.
And of course, it plays a really important role for line managers, because it creates a structure for them to have conversations around careers.
This holds true, whatever the business weather. If leaders really want their people to rise to any challenge, to meet any opportunity, they shouldn’t want them to be waiting passively for top-down clarity on the future. Instead, they should want employees to be actively thinking about their career development, to be building self-knowledge and confidence, and leveraging their networks and relationships.
There is ample evidence to show that career development is a key driver of engagement, so the opportunity – today, rather than tomorrow – is to allow everyone to develop the skills and confidence to be ready, eager and willing for when business “unknowns” become “known.” There may be opportunities for people to grow with a business’s new model, grow elsewhere if not, and even return smoothly in the future, as circumstances change.
So, when it comes to career strategy, my answer to the question above is that there are no good reasons to “wait and see”. The future may be uncertain, but one certainty is that a workforce enabled by a great career strategy is the best bet at all points of the business cycle.
For information about this or our career strategy and support solutions, please contact Racquel Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org