Employee Engagement Employee Retention

5 Steps to Implement Collaborative Career Plans with Employees

In a world of endless meetings and deadlines taking up most of our mental bandwidth, meaningful tasks can seem daunting when all piled on together. For most of us, the solution is pretty simple - we organize the heck out of our days.

Whether that means creating detailed lists, following a schedule, or setting daily goals, having set expectations for our day provides us with a sense of direction. 

Now imagine trying to navigate your daily life without any organization. Seems harder, right? So, why is it we often overlook outlining longer-term career goals for employees?

Being in a job with no set direction can leave any employee expecting an endless rut of menial tasks, rather than being able to see the bigger picture. Just as important as it is for your company to find an employee that is the right fit, your employee needs to understand their potential at your company and where they could fit.


What is a Collaborative Career Plan

Collaborative career plans can take many different shapes, but a common factor they all encompass is a joint effort between the employer and employee to map out the long-term plans and expectations of both parties. The goal is to work with employees to discuss their career aspirations, align these objectives with company needs, provide opportunities, and build expectations together.

It’s important to build a plan that works in mutual benefit for both parties, where employees can learn about the projects, teams, and growth opportunities at your firm, while employers can close skill gaps, understand potential and maximize efficiency within the organization.

Benefits of Collaborative Career Plans

Attract talent

Giving employees an opportunity to chart out their growth at the company will lead to higher job satisfaction, which will make them better advocates for your brand and more likely to refer new candidates. 

Also, motivated employees striving to advance their career can do wonders for company culture - they display behaviours that align with company core values, and collaborate with co-workers to achieve the best possible results. Candidates will notice, as more and more they are looking for companies with great workplace culture when deciding where to work.

Lastly, showing potential candidates that you have a process in place to help employees achieve their personal career goals, will increase the likelihood of candidates accepting job offers.


Increase engagement and retention

Any employee facing a mountain of menial tasks with no end in sight will rarely produce high quality work, and is not likely to stick around at your company in the long-term.

If, however, you have built a career plan with the employee that outlines opportunities for advancement, required skills, and milestones, they will be motivated to showcase their best work and stay loyal to the company.

Through a collaborative career plan, you can better understand your employee’s ambitions, and every project they work on can be a step toward fulfilling their career goals. This will also ensure that projects are completed more efficiently, with a motivated employee leading the way.


Close skill gaps 

If you have certain departments with gaps in expertise, or you know you'll need more leadership in certain areas, you can encourage current employees to develop skills to grow into these more senior roles. Nurturing talent internally can save you the headaches and huge costs of having to source outside talent.  

As existing employees grow their skills to reach their personal career goals, you’ll develop highly skilled teams with improved ability to execute action plans and meet company goals. 


Improve recruitment planning

It can be difficult to know exactly when certain senior positions will open-up. However, if you have career plans mapped out with every employee, you'll be better positioned to forecast what type of talent will still be missing even if everyone sticks around.


5 Steps to Implement Career Plans

1. Internal evaluation

Before launching collaborative career planning, take the time to step back and evaluate your company. There are important factors to consider before promising employees certain career trajectories:

A) Budget: Figure out what funds are available for raises and promotions, and what skill development training your company can afford.

B) Vacancies: Map out upcoming retirements, promotions, or new locations/departments at your company. This will help identify positions that will need to be filled in the future.

C) Targets: Determine key growth targets for the company (quarterly, annual, longer-term), and the required team members needed to achieve these goals. You can then identify skill gaps, and what training is best to offer current employees.


2. Candid discussions with employees

Book a one-on-one meeting with each employee to understand their career objectives by asking some key questions:

  • What skills would you like to learn and/or develop?
  • Where would you like to see yourself career-wise 1, 5, or 10+ years ?
  • What are your personal career goals?
  • What do you need (tools, education, assigned tasks, etc.) to help you succeed at our firm?

Determining a career path with an employee needs to be a two-way street. Highlight some of the possibilities based on where their expressed interests align with the needs of your company.

Lastly, discuss how certain career paths might play out over time, what training would be required, and what expectations would need to be met for promotions.


3. Put career plans into action

In order to reach career goals, employees will need to develop certain skills, and you should plan to provide them with opportunities to acquire these skills wherever possible.

Consider in-house training, funding education for relevant certifications, appointing them with a mentor, or providing them with opportunities - like taking on new projects that coincide with the strengthening certain skill sets.

Taking on new tasks can pose multiple challenges for both you and the employee. Try to be flexible and accepting of learning curves, and give them the time to focus on skill development. This will pay off in the long run as employees become more capable and prepared for more responsibilities.


4. Track progress

Hold your side of the bargain and make sure to keep up with employee career plans. Schedule periodic check-ins (e.g. every 6 months) to discuss progress in terms of skills and experience gained, and any changes to the collaborative plan. Employees will be grateful for being kept in-the-know about changes at the company, so they can adapt their plan accordingly.


5. Reward accomplishments

One of the best ways to encourage your people to keep growing and  achieve career goals is through on-going employee recognition. Make sure to recognize outstanding effort, accomplishments, and major milestones, beyond what you have discussed in terms of promotions. This can be done through public praise, spot bonuses, gift cards, vacation time, or added benefits.

Here at Guusto, we use our employee recognition platform to reward employees for successfully completing projects, demonstrating behaviour that aligns with company core values, and much more!

Wondering how you can build a digital recognition program that can help motivate your employees to grow their skills and reach longer-term career goals? Hit the button below to chat with someone from our team.

Book a Time to Chat


What's Next?

Many companies fail to build a great experience for new employees that gets them producing results fast and ensures they stick around. So next, we explore the 5 Stages of Impactful Employee On-Boarding. It will cover the following in detail:

  • Why is the On-Boarding Experience Important?
  • 5 Steps to Create an Impactful On-Boarding Experience

Hope you’ll join us for the discussion. Have something you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Muucho Guusto,


Culture is the Ultimate Advantage

Set yourself apart using the power of company culture. Stand out to new applicants and motivate your team to do their best work.

Skai Dalziel

Written by Skai Dalziel

Skai is the Co-Founder of Guusto. He leads the Customer Success Team, and loves helping HR leaders build workplace culture by sharing his experiences from working with thousands of companies.

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