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Growth & Development - Instituting Regular Career Pathing Conversations

No employee likes being stuck in a dead-end job. But with more organizations flattening out and nonlinear careers becoming the new norm, employers must find other ways to support employee development. An effective way to do that is through regular career pathing conversations.


Speed up career advancement and encourage more managers to support their employees’ career development.

What is career pathing?
Career pathing is a developing planning process that allows employees to visualize their career growth within a company. It lets them take an honest look at their abilities and competencies, and determine the skills they need to advance in their careers. Unlike performance reviews that focus on the past, career pathing is forward-looking. Learn more about career pathing here.

Why institute career pathing conversations?
Career pathing conversations allow employees to share their career aspirations and seek advice on how to achieve them. As a manager, initiating these conversations with your employees builds trust, shows a genuine interest in their development, and proves your commitment to helping them reach their career goals and milestones.

How do career pathing conversations drive employee engagement?
Employees feel more engaged when their organization offers a clear path for advancement. Creating personalized career plans with your employees will keep them motivated and allow them to take ownership of their career. It will also encourage them to develop the competencies they need to succeed. Click here to discover other ways career pathing can improve employee engagement.

How do career pathing conversations benefit the organization?
Everyone knows compensation and company culture play a factor in job satisfaction. But without a clear career path, your organization is at risk of driving great employees away. This is where career pathing conversations come in. These conversations can help reduce turnover, limit stagnation, and give employees a sense of purpose — resulting in a more engaged workforce to move your organization forward.

Once you have a career pathing conversation with your employees, this guide will help you put a plan into place.


Have a Career Pathing Conversation

Start the conversation - Plan a 30–60 minute meeting with each employee to chat about their career aspirations. This conversation should be informal, and if possible, held outside the office. Have your team prepare for the conversation by asking them to think about what jobs they are interested in, the skills they want to develop, and their strengths and weaknesses.

Find out what motivates your employees - Want to know what motivates your employees? Ask questions that provide an understanding of what drives them to perform and succeed: What do/don’t they like doing? What motivates them? Where would they like to be career-wise in a year or two? Use active listening skills and do not be judgmental. Try not to interpret what they are saying through your own lens, or using your values.

Talk competencies - Ask employees what competencies they think they need to develop. Remember, competence is not about performance. It refers to the knowledge and skills required to perform a job.

Offer advice - Give your best advice on how your employees should develop missing competencies. Here you may discuss any resources available through the organization or outside.

Encourage employees to own the process - After the meeting, have each employee write a brief summary of the conversation and share it with you. Ask them to plan for the next meeting at a frequency that suits them.

Think of ways you can help your employees progress - Prepare 1–3 suggestions for each employee on how they can progress in their careers. Show them to your supervisor and ask if there are any opportunities to align your employees' goals with the goals of the organization. Do not make commitments on behalf of the organization without approval.

Create a plan - Share your suggestions with each employee and work together to develop a career plan. Decide on at least 1 or 2 goals for them to work towards. Then, offer direction on how they can reach them within the organization. Be sure to include milestones or timelines to achieve these goals. This should include scheduled touchpoints with you to assess progress.

Provide ongoing support - Empower your employees by providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Meet with them at least once between conversations to show you are actively supporting their development. An easy way to show your support is by asking them how you can help and/or offering interesting and engaging learning experiences.

Reference Material
Five Ways that Career Pathing Increases Employee Engagement
How to Make a Career Path Plan
How Career Pathing can Help You Win Talent and Boost Engagement

Updated on: 08/31/2023

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