Employees increasingly face careers spanning 60-70 years. At the same time average tenure is shrinking to about 4.5 years while the half-life of a learned skill is 5 years and falling rapidly (Bersin, 2016). These are among the primary drivers of what is, and will continue to be, a dramatic shift in how we contextualize a career and create a compelling employee experience. Among Glassdoor respondents a key driver of an organization’s employment brand is the “ability to learn and progress”, and employees are far more likely to leave an organization if they are not learning fast enough. A recent Corporate Executive Board survey indicates only 30% of employees are satisfied with future career opportunities.

In the span of my own career the narrative has shifted considerably from one in which I learned and was developed to have skills for a career, to the career itself being an experience of learning and development. There are several polarities to consider as you consider where to lead your organization.

Experiences vs. Static Role

Most organizations hire individuals for a specific role with very little attention to what some have termed “trapped value.” For example, when a Chief Information Officer hires a developer, the employee is typically always viewed as a developer. This is a lost opportunity. Imagine if your organization continually monitored the current and future capabilities for success and made talent decision based on the capabilities identified, rather than only based on a job description. I have a colleague who applied for a role with a large international pharmaceutical company, but was not selected for the role. However, the hiring committee was so impressed that they decided to hire her without a specific role. Fast forward several years and the organization is the recipient of numerous industry awards and is highly regarded based on her contributions. Creating space in your organization’s talent review/assessment process for “non-role specific talent” can begin to yield results.

  • During talent review work with business unit leaders identify capabilities and competencies required for the future
  • Work with leaders, including external networks, to identify the experiences that are required to develop the capabilities and competencies
  • Build transparency via established channels to highlight for employees and people leaders where the experiences can be obtained
  • Manage key developmental experiences to ensure they are accessible to all employees

Employability vs. Promotion

Shifting the narrative from one of “how do I get a promotion?” to one of building skills and experiences that will enhance current and future employability, is a key challenge for many organizations. With the relevant framework, organizations can align mission, vision, values and strategies with employee interests in a career partnership model that creates a meaningful alliance. (Hoffman, Casnocha, Yeh ,2014. The Alliance-Managing Talent in the Networked Age).

  • Manage expectations up front, in job announcements, performance objectives/plans, or contracts), to clarify the value the individual will bring to the organization and what they will receive from a development perspective
  • Provide people leaders with relevant labor market data and equip them to have career conversations with their teams- including internal and external opportunities.
  • Provide employees with resources such as career counseling, training to help them communicate their personal brand within the organization and externally.

Marketing vs. Career Self Service

We are all told to take control of our career, which I endorse, but it is not enough. Organizations that win will target and source internal candidates with timely opportunities. Pushing opportunities to employees creates awareness of opportunity before employees begin searching for a new role. This eco-system can be a radical shift for people managers and organizations that operate in a siloed manner.

  • Set the expectation for people leaders to hold career conversations with employees targeting, at a minimum, those who may be at risk of career disengagement, and at key transition points (birthdays, work anniversaries, performance discussions)
  • Encourage employees to share their career goals and qualifications via surveys, development of on-line profiles, or conversations with their people leader or career counselor
  • Send matching opportunities to employees based on their expressed interests, skills, and qualifications
  • Encourage employees to utilize your internal talent community or invite them to indicate their interests through as survey, or if needed through an email campaign

Talent Sharing vs. Talent Hoarding

A focus on talent sharing as an organizational expectation would seem, on the surface, to be sufficient. Expectations without the tools necessary to drive the change will not be sufficient to achieve the desired impact. Cross functional teams, and talent exchanges are additional capabilities that further drive career satisfaction.

  • Set leadership expectations for talent sharing and develop specific targets for creation of cross functional teams, internal mobility, and career development
  • Create a mechanism for a talent exchange giving people leaders access to enterprise wide skills
  • Utilize a partnership model that consists of a skip level people leader to ensure internal movements align with the enterprise needs and that the talent exchange is effective

The “future of work” is now. Organizations that win will leverage the shift in talent management, development and expectations.






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