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Painting a picture of the future with your organization can be a delicate balance with a new hire. We know that new employees are more likely to be engaged, productive and happy if there are opportunities to learn and grow in a new position, but it’s also important to keep expectations realistic. Though you don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to a team member’s future, career path conversations are discussions worth having. Especially in a market where top talent is hard to find, getting your new rock-star employees excited about a future with you builds loyalty, reduces turnover and can be a huge competitive advantage!

Keeping employees around means engaging in professional development discussions early and often, while demonstrating how their career path could unfold with you. Bottom line: It’s worth it to get new employees excited about sticking around long term. With that in mind, there are simple ways to keep career planning top of mind early in the employee life-cycle and set the tone for a long and fulfilling employment relationship.

Build excitement during the hiring process. Painting a picture of what the career path could look like starts before the offer is presented. The candidate experience sets the tone for the employee experience, and it’s never too early to start planning for a candidates’ future with you. Have prospective team members meet with multiple employees during the recruitment process so they get a clearer picture of what a potential future with the organization could look like. Having team members share information about their roles and what the future with the organization could hold for them helps align reality with expectations while building excitement for the future.  

Leverage probationary check-ins. If you’re not doing 30, 60, and 90 day check-ins with new hires, now’s the time to start. But just as important as giving feedback on performance during these conversations is using these opportunities to build excitement for the future, and to initiate a dialogue around career progression and goals. Now that they’ve had some exposure to how things actually work, they might have some new ideas about how they will best fit into the big picture long term. Probationary check-ins are a great opportunity to kick off those longer-term career discussions, as well as keep your finger on the pulse of where individual employees would like to develop.

Revamp your performance management system. Use performance reviews as an opportunity for employees to and managers to co-create a career path roadmap. Simplify your performance review process, and consider ditching outdated rating scales in favour of forward-focused conversations that centre around career planning and identifying development opportunities that align with both individual and organizational goals.

Build transparency around your competencies and role requirements. If new employees aren’t sure what it takes to move up to the next level, chances are good they will struggle to get there. This is where enabling employee success from the get-go by clarifying needed competencies for every role is essential. That way, you can highlight what is required to be prepared to move to the next step on the ladder. When competencies and role requirements are clear, you can create a plan for supporting the development process while building excitement and minimizing frustration. If you haven’t formally articulated what it takes to succeed in a role through job descriptions, competency frameworks, and performance management systems, you may want to put those tools in place first.  

Identify and incorporate more of what “makes them tick”. Especially for younger generations in the workforce, it’s important to consider the individual’s personal growth goals, and how those can tie in to professional growth. Reframing career path discussions as opportunities to align professional growth and organizational needs with personal growth and individual goals can be an incredibly powerful motivator. Motivation, productivity, and ownership at work will follow naturally when employees feel as though their personal goals factor into the equation. 

Your Engaged HR Assignment:   

Are you clear on individual employees’ career goals? Do you have regular career path conversations built into your check-ins and reviews? If not, now’s the time – start the career path discussion during your next 1-1 check-ins, jotting down the highlights so you can start building the roadmap together!

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