Managing a team of people is a lot like spinning plates — you have to give each one the individual treatment it needs to keep it going. If you don’t pay enough attention to one of the plates, it will fall — or in the case of your employees, they’ll leave you for a better opportunity.
But part of the puzzle for managers is figuring out what team members need to feel valued and satisfied at work — and one of the critical pieces is career growth and development. It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of continual learning for your team members. A study by Udemy found that 42% of employees consider learning opportunities the second most important factor in their job satisfaction after salaries.
If your employees are jumping ship, it might be time to look at the career development opportunities currently available to them. Managers must play an active and empowering role in making each employee feel valued and appreciated — and they can do so by supporting their career progression.
If you don’t prioritise career development conversations with your team, you could end up losing them to a competitor. So to keep your best people, you’ll need to put a career development plan in place. This article will outline five ways managers can support their team’s career development aspirations — and boost employee retention in the process.
5 ways managers can help employees grow
1. Understand their aspirations
Your employees are so much more than their job title. They’re unique individuals, each with their own hopes, dreams, and priorities. Their personal lives also play a role in their career aspirations — an aspect managers often overlook.
For example, a working parent may aspire to a role that provides them with a better work-life balance and more time to spend with their kids. Don’t assume that everyone on the team is aiming for the top.
For this reason, it’s essential to schedule regular meetings with them to talk about their career aspirations and identify learning opportunities that support them. This will ensure you’re on the same page and can help them achieve their career goals.
For example, you might recommend them for a project or role that aligns with the skills they want to develop. Or you might enrol them in a training programme that will help them take their career to the next level.
The important thing is to make these conversations intentional and not leave it to ad-hoc encounters by the water cooler. It should be a formal process that you schedule at regular intervals throughout the year.
2. Construct creative career road maps
This is where many organisations fall short. If you don’t map out potential paths for your employees, they won’t know what career opportunities might be available to them.
To do this strategically, you’ll need to create road maps for every role in the company, outlining potential career road maps, areas for development, and the resources required to reach the next stage of each path. Employees need to know what steps to take and the time it will take to get from where they are to where they want to be.
A career map will make career progression appear tangible for your team members and give them a clear trajectory to follow. It also increases employee trust, as they know they have a leader who’s looking out for their future.
Once you’ve created your frameworks, you’ll be able to show employees exactly where they are on the road map and what they need to do to achieve their next promotion or pay raise.
Just make sure your career paths aren’t too rigidly set in stone. They should serve as a guide while leaving space for exciting career moves. Include opportunities for lateral moves, branches, and other non-linear changes in an employee’s professional development.
3. Provide mentoring and job shadowing opportunities
One of the best ways for employees to develop the new skills they need is to follow in the footsteps of a mentor whose achievements mirror their own aspirations. Not only is it inspiring to know that someone else has already gone before them, but the mentor relationship can provide additional support and motivation to keep pursuing their long-term goals.
Creating an on-the-job mentoring or shadowing programme is a smart move for managers. It allows newer employees to feel supported and valued as they develop their skill set but can benefit the mentors, too. For example, they may gain fresh perspectives and insights from the younger generation that reshape their vision or strategy. Because mentoring is a two-way street, it fosters a growth mindset at work — which is essential for promoting a healthy company culture.
4. Invest in employee education
Leaders often shy away from investing in employee education plans because they don’t see the value or are afraid they won’t see a return on investment.
But investing in your people always pays off, so as long as you have the budget, go for it. Hundreds of high-quality digital courses are available for everything from programming languages to social media marketing — and everything in between.
Embracing digital or hybrid training programmes can ensure that your whole team has access to the resources they need — whether they’re fully remote or work onsite. Digital learning also drastically reduces the costs compared to traditional face-to-face training, so you’ll be able to invest more in your employees.
Since the Great Resignation began in 2021, investors have poured over $2.1 billion into employee education startups, highlighting the growing demand for employee training and development.
5. Encourage regular employee feedback
Ultimately, your employees know what’s best for their own career growth, so avoid making assumptions or generalisations about the impact of your training programmes or your team members’ aspirations.
Building an optimised career growth plan for every employee requires keeping the communication channels open and encouraging employees to give honest feedback about the learning opportunities you provide.
This will allow you to revaluate your career road maps frequently and adjust them as required. It will also help make sure they continue to align with your team’s personal priorities without having to wait for annual appraisals.
Your people are constantly growing and changing every day, and as they do, their goals and passions can also change — sometimes more frequently than you might expect. Let them know you’re available to lend a listening ear whenever they need it, and schedule time every couple of months to talk about their vision for their professional future. Being attuned to their needs will enable you to identify the resources you can dedicate to each team member.
Build your career road maps with Progression
Career progression is the secret sauce for keeping your employees happy, engaged, and motivated. But building your career road maps can be a daunting task without the right tools to support you.
Progression is a platform that allows you to quickly and easily map out diverse career paths within your organisation. You can build your own frameworks or draw on our library of templates for inspiration.
Plus, you can share your career pathways publicly for full transparency, allowing team members to visualise where they want to go and how they can get there. But don’t just take our word for it — sign up for free today and build your first career path in minutes.