“It is important for people to know what lies in their employment future these days,” said Kelley Ryan, branch manager for the Cedar Rapids Manpower office.
Ryan sees a broad mix of job candidates come into her office.
“They range all the way from new grads just out of school to those who’ve experienced a layoff because of the economic downturn,” she explained.
“The underlying commonality is that every person wants to know that the position they are getting has some long-term permanent potential,” she said, “and as far as career paths, they are looking for something that is going to be consistent, something that is long term and something that can provide stability for them.”
In a recent job survey conducted by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, nearly 400 people ranging in age from 18 to 55-plus were asked if knowing their career path was important to their overall job satisfaction. Results indicated 54 percent of the people said that it was.
WHAT COMES NEXT
R.J. Hammel, branch manager for Robert Half International in Cedar Rapids, defined the term “career path” in two ways.
“For some people it is well defined in that it requires accomplishments needed for advancement, whereas for others it is just simply a description or explanation of their position.
“Some people are looking for career advancement, or that next step on the ladder, but not everyone is. Some people are OK understanding and knowing that they have a stable position,” he added.”
Hammel believes the lack of a defined path can affect work performance, creating apathy about performance. But others, he added, are going to find a way to rise to the occasion and outperform those around them, hoping that in the end it is going to pay off for them.”
Ryan emphasized the importance that good communication plays in helping the manager and the employee in enhancing career-path development plans that benefit both employee and employer.
“The tip I would offer managers,” she said, “is to talk to their employee and ask them what they would like to do. Ask them what they see as a future for themselves within the company and then see what there is that is within their means to be able to help facilitate that.”
Hammel agreed that communication plays a huge role in this process.
“If you don’t know what your employees desire, their aspirations may not match up with your planning,” he said. “Managers today need to embrace this whole thing, and that communication includes the good, the bad, and the ugly in helping people to understand what path they are on ….
“Ultimately small issues or not addressing the situation can cause you to lose some of the top talent that you have on your team,” he noted, “leading to you not having the people that you want to be able to move into your leadership positions.”
Hammel noted that in recent data one major generational difference between older and the younger workers is the desired frequency for feedback.
“The information stated that the younger the generation, the more often they want feedback,” he noted. “The older the generation, the less often they felt they needed that feedback, so part of having this conversation with your team members is then determining how quickly you need to get back with them and setting the expectations and determining what the timing is for the employee to realistically be able to achieve his or her goals, and then setting and sticking to the expectations that you put in front of them.”
Talk it over
Five career-related questions supervisors and employees should discuss:
How important is knowing your potential career path to your overall job satisfaction?: