6 Tools to Develop Employees' Careers

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6 Tools to Develop Employees' Careers

It's the end of the year and a common time for employers to have discussions with their employees regarding career development as part of the performance review process, or in preparation for the upcoming year.

Employees tend to have questions about their careers at the end of the year, and organizations should be equipped to answer those, provide information, and help employees achieve their goals. If not, organizations risk losing quality employees who seek career development and advancement elsewhere. In fact, lack of opportunities is one of the key reasons employees leave.

Here are six suggestions for supporting employees' career development in the new year.

1. Set developmental goals.

Setting developmental goals for each employee helps ensure that training and development objectives get accomplished. It's also one of the easiest ways to make employees and managers accountable for developing their skills.

Developmental goals could include attending a training, engaging in cross-training, reading a book, going to a conference, or participating in a leadership development program.

The number of goals can vary, but is typically in the range of 1-3. Encourage the employee to set these goals for themselves, with their manager's input.

2. Create an individual development plan.

An individual development plan (IDP) is a document completed to plan the development of an employee for an upcoming year. It may include developmental goals and can be short or long-term focused.

An IDP is typically developed, reviewed, and discussed between a supervisor and an employee, usually as part of a career development conversation or a performance management review/discussion. Most organizations develop these plans for at least some employees, if not all.

3. Provide career development information.

Providing support materials and information related to career development can help employees recognize what career paths are available to them, understand position qualification requirements, and access resources that will help them gain new opportunities. This information can include:

  • Career guides and checklists
  • Career path matrices, maps, and visuals
  • Career management websites or systems
  • Position summaries or descriptions

When information, tools, and resources are lacking regarding careers, however, employees tend to not perceive career development options.

4. Offer career coaching.

Coaching regarding career development could be informal or formal, meaning that managers, human resources or organizational development professionals, or external coaches can serve in this capacity. The important part is providing employees with access to some form of regular dialogue about their career which helps:

  • Determine best skills and abilities
  • Assess career interests and aspirations
  • Provide guidance on career alternatives and decision-making
  • Explore options such as promotions, transfer, or other jobs in the organization
  • Identify developmental opportunities
  • Make introductions to those who can help

5. Create internal job opportunities.

Create a system whereby all individuals in the company can access and apply for internal job opportunities. It may be a bulletin board with job postings, an area on your intranet with job listings, and/or interoffice emails promoting job openings in the organization.

The key with internal job opportunities is to communicate them, open them up for employees to view, and offer a fair selection process for your staff to be considered for opportunities.

6. Set up informal career development opportunities.

When employees are looking for greater career development on the job and no formal opportunities exist, set up informal ones such as:

  • Informal mentoring
  • Cross-training
  • Job shadowing
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Networking

These opportunities can enhance career development when formal approaches are not possible. In addition, your organization may consider allowing employees to develop opportunities through other means such as volunteer work, participation in professional associations, and other community endeavors.


Remember, no one achieves their career goals without the support of others. Sharing guidance, mentorship, information, resources, and opportunities with employees can help them achieve greater success in your organization, and also have more fulfilling careers, which is a win for both you and them.

ERC Training provides customized learning and development solutions nationwide.

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