The Agile Approach
Managing Career Development
It’s safe to say that effective career development plays a crucial role in the long term prospects of any business. However, all too often talent management and staff development can be analysed to such a degree that it not only limits skills development and business growth, but can also be such a long process that it quickly becomes out of date. In a constantly changing environment agile career development plans are vital to ensure an employee’s role can be easily adjusted to the changing business need without disrupting their progress.
An Agile Approach
As a talent management specialist Ochre House understands the importance of having career development plans in place which allow a level of flexibility. In order to highlight to the industry why this is important and how it can be done, Ochre House has implemented an agile approach to its internal processes. In doing this, it has become clear that in most cases getting the basics right can be more effective than focusing on the more detailed aspects.
Making career development plans too specific can actually limit progression and restrict flexibility. In an ever changing economy, spending months pinning down exact details of talent management programmes can be a waste of time as the role and business needs are likely to have changed by the time the original detail is agreed, and the process has to start over again.
Career paths should instead outline a clear understanding of business goals and build a framework around this which is capable of withstanding change. This can be as simple as an individual’s involvement in achieving a business target. Ensuring the role is defined by the end goal allows career progression to be more agile as the role can adapt with the business targets.
By focusing on these flexible careers paths, role definitions will become less relevant and the focus will shift more to employees being the vehicle to get the company where it needs to be. The roles will have the flexibility needed to withstand change, but the qualities and end result will stay the same. But developing this isn’t easy.
Building the Framework
Whilst in-depth career strategies is something Ochre House has avoided, there will always be a need for a level of direction to ensure employees and managers have the tools and guidance they need to develop career progression plans.
In recognition of this, Ochre House has implemented an internal framework which outlines indicators of high performance. This framework consists of seven statements (eight for leaders to incorporate their leadership qualities) of what high performance looks like, each of which were agreed following consultation across the company. Internally it is possible to build a framework through conversations with managers and individuals.
Using this framework, individuals and their managers pledge what they expect from each other, in line with the business goals, leading to a commitment on each side. As business goals change, so do the staff pledges.
It is important to note that review of these commitments is not left until the annual appraisal. As business needs must be balanced with individual progression, review opportunities should be available all the time.
Whilst the framework aims to help businesses reach their strategic targets, the commitment to individual development is not ignored. Individual led solutions are strongly encouraged and each person’s development is 100% owned by them. If they have a particular aim in their career, then there’s nothing stopping them from going for it. Instead of the traditional role, managers are there to challenge, guide and open doors for each person.
Opportunity is also key to this framework. Ochre House is moving beyond training courses and coaching and is looking at job swap programmes too. Sometimes the skills for the job can be found in completely different roles – the ease with which people can change careers now is a clear indicator of this – but it is only through opening up more opportunities to staff that these new skills can be developed.
Future Career Development
There has been tremendous growth in the talent management sphere but there is still a long way to go. The immediate issue which must be addressed is the need to be agile. The flexible approach to career development is being talked about in the HR and business arena but there are few organisations actually implementing anything. Many companies are looking for a magic bullet, but ultimately there isn’t one. Talent management and career development processes need to be tailored as each role and organisation will be different; there will be no one size fits all solution.«Return to Media & PR