IPD publication urges employers to wise up to career development

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 May 2000



(2000), "IPD publication urges employers to wise up to career development", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 19 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmd.2000.02619dab.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

IPD publication urges employers to wise up to career development

IPD publication urges employers to wise up to career development

The popular annual report statement that "our people are our main asset" is not being backed up by action in today's world of "jobs for now" rather than "jobs for life", says a new study from the Institute of Personnel and Development.

Many organizations are forgetting about career development, expecting to poach talent from rivals or hire expert consultants on fixed-term contracts. But such an approach, common at a time of tight budgets and permanent cost cutting, is short-sighted, argues Tricia Jackson, an experienced freelance consultant in training and personnel, in Career Development, the latest in the IPD's Good Practice series.

The balance of power seems to have shifted even more towards the employer, she says. "Employees certainly seem to be working longer hours, with unwanted additional responsibilities, under more pressure to achieve stringent targets and with more limited prospects of promotion than before.

"Not surprisingly, the motivation and commitment of employees have been hard to sustain following major changes, especially where employees have not been offered development opportunities."

Access to well organised career development programmes can go some way to make up for the lost promotion chances and can improve motivation and performance. Knowledge of employees' skills and aspirations also reduces the likelihood of "square pegs in round holes".

A prime example quoted is a potential solution to the problem of "plateaued managers", who have climbed to the highest level of responsibility they are ever likely to achieve.

"Recent developments such as shortened hierarchies and decentralized operations have meant that more, and younger, employees will arrive at career plateaux rather earlier than expected and regardless of their performance," she says. "What is needed is a change in attitudes and culture so that career bridges, lateral moves, project work, development roles and secondments are all viewed in a positive light as helpful to long-term career development."

Jackson's book outlines various career development models through the use of case study examples and urges companies to integrate their actions with other personnel initiatives.

Scottish Power introduced a programme of career coaching and counselling for managers run by external consultants. The objectivity of the external consultant was highly valued in providing a personal examination of career alternatives.

Philips Research Laboratories employs a dual career ladder for technical and managerial progression to very senior positions, so avoiding the possibility of making outstanding technical staff into mediocre managers.

Jackson urges organizations to adopt a step-by-step approach to the design and implementation of any career development programme and warns against many of the common pitfalls, such as a lack of visible support from senior managers. Individual participation in the career development process will be motivated by different objectives in a jobs market where both employer and employee expect future job insecurity.

"Career self-management for some will be about doing everything they can to work their way to the top of their organization or profession," says the book. "For others it may be about managing their performance at work to meet their employer's needs while safeguarding the quality of their personal life. Or it may be about seeking out opportunities to develop a range of skills that could be used at a later date in another context, such as to set up their own business."

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