Lack of Career Path/No Mobility – Upper or Lateral

Part 2 of 5 in the People Leave series

Career paths and career ladders are traditional methods by which employees develop and progress within an organization. Career ladders are the progression of jobs in a particular field. Career paths can be more varied and may include career ladders or horizontal transitions. (SHRM). Whether you have a large organization where career paths and career ladders are well established and advertised or you are a small, growing company that wants to retain top performers, it’s important to identify the talent you have and why people work at your organization. People – even your top performers – will quit. Why they quit should never be a surprise to you (with the exception of when it’s a surprise to them, i.e., sudden life change, move, etc.).     

It’s not uncommon for people to leave their jobs because they believe there is no career path or ladder for them when in fact:

  • They’ve waited for a year for their performance review and weren’t offered a growth opportunity
  • Their manager has no idea that they’re not happy in their role or in their team
  • They don’t know (or buy into) the company’s vision or strategy for the future nor see how they can be a part of it

What you can do:

  • Have regular one on ones with your team.  What conversations are you saving for the annual (and dreaded) performance review?  
  • Check-in with people.  Are you dealing with someone with a risk-averse communication style who won’t speak up?
  • Speak often about the path forward with your team. Do your team members understand how their job fits into the big picture? Bonus points if you’re encouraging them to use their most natural talents in their current and future jobs.

Little Red Flag

If there’s a thing that drives me about anything I do, especially the work I do, it’s that I want to really understand people. I want to understand why they do what they do. Why they make the choices they make. The drive to understand is what underscores my desire to learn as much as possible about each of my client’s candidates to ensure that they’re getting a great match for the role they’re looking to fill and that the candidate will be happy in the role.

The assessment tools I use and the results they provide bring structure to the analysis of a candidate’s talent from which we can predict performance.  The science behind the tools add what I call a scaffolding for one’s intuition. It reveals those things you can’t put your finger on but sense they’re there.   In talking with the client and weaving through the candidate’s results, I’m able to help decipher what the client really wants (and doesn’t) in their new hire.  

Here’s a great example of how the assessments can influence how the company can leverage the strengths of their employees.

Recently one of my clients, who I’ve been working with for many years, asked for my assistance in creating some development plans and career paths for one of their teams. One team member in particular procrastinated completing the assessment, which raised a little red flag.  Whenever I’m assessing an individual for purposes of development or performance management it’s important to know how they’re currently doing in the role. This individual was struggling in her administrative role. She joined the company as an intern and had been moved around quite a bit during her time there.

In reviewing the results of the assessment with her supervisor it came to light that the person’s style and the style that was required for superior performance in this role were complete opposites.  The supervisor asked about moving her into a customer service role. That role would also require a very high attention to detail, something she was struggling with in her current role. I cautioned my client against this.  What the assessment results were showing us is that this employee needed a lot of freedom with a small amount of structure. This was someone who would be happy in more of a troubleshooting role, not locked into a schedule, sitting at a desk.

As luck would have it, there was another opening as a junior manager who would pick up the slack for a very busy manager.  This role would allow the employee to flex her problem solving muscles, allow for a flexible schedule, and wouldn’t chain her to a desk.   It was a much better fit for her and for the company. Without the additional insight of the assessment, the supervisor would have placed this individual in yet another role that was a poor match.

These assessments still blow me away.

At the end of the day, It’s really all about finding happiness – for the organization and for the employees.  The assessment results provide clarity, that scaffolding for one’s intuition, information you can’t get from an interview or a resume.