How to Build a Career Progression Framework for Your Employees

Smiling business people looking at sticky notes on glass in meeting room at creative office

In this detailed guide we look at career progression and its huge impact on business.

What is career progression?

Career progression is the process of moving forward and up in one's career. It's about gaining new skills, taking on more responsibilities, and ideally, getting better pay and job titles. But it's not just about climbing up; it's also about personal growth and finding fulfillment in one's work.

What are the different forms of career progression?

There are many ways an employee can progress in their career. Here's a look at some key forms:

  • Vertical progression: This is the classic climb up the career ladder, moving to higher positions within the same job family.

  • Horizontal progression: Employees expand their skills and experience by moving sideways into different roles or departments.

  • Diagonal progression: A mix of vertical and horizontal, where an employee moves to a different job family but at a higher level.

  • Skill-based progression: Focusing on learning new skills or mastering current ones, which can lead to better job performance and opportunities.

  • Pay rise without a title change: Sometimes, progression means getting a pay rise for taking on more complex tasks or improving in one's current role without changing the job title.

Why is career progression important to employees?

Career progression matters to employees for several reasons. Here are five key points:

  1. Fulfillment: Achieving career goals and making progress can lead to a sense of accomplishment and happiness at work.

  2. Motivation: Knowing there's a path forward can boost employee motivation and engagement.

  3. Skills development: Career progression often involves gaining new skills or improving existing ones, which can increase job satisfaction and performance.

  4. Financial security: Moving up the career ladder usually comes with a pay rise, which can improve an employee's financial well-being.

  5. Personal growth: Progressing in a career allows for personal development, including better soft skills like communication and leadership.

Understanding and supporting career progression can help you build a stronger, more motivated team, leading to greater success for your business.

Career progression plan vs. Career development plan

A career progression plan is about the steps an employee can take to move up in the company. It focuses on vertical movement, aiming for higher positions, increased responsibility, and often, better pay. This plan is closely tied to the company's hierarchy and outlines a path from lower to higher roles, which may include moving from technical skills-focused positions to leadership or managerial roles.

On the other hand, a career development plan is broader and more focused on the employee's overall growth, including professional development and personal aspirations. It's not just about moving up the ladder but expanding knowledge, skills, and competencies that enrich an employee's career satisfaction and effectiveness.

This plan might include training courses, mentorship programs, and projects that stretch the employee's abilities and prepare them for a variety of roles within the organization, not just the next step up.

Both plans are crucial for career growth. The career progression plan gives employees a clear path to higher positions within the organization, while the career development plan ensures they have the necessary skills, experiences, and satisfaction to succeed and contribute meaningfully along the way.

What is a career progression framework?

A career progression framework is a structured outline that provides employees with a clear understanding of the available career paths within an organization and what it takes to achieve progress in their chosen paths. It serves as a roadmap, detailing the specific roles, responsibilities, and milestones that mark the journey from entry-level positions to leadership or managerial positions.

This framework is designed to align with the organization's goals and needs, ensuring that as employees aim for career growth, they also contribute to the company's success. It often includes:

  • Defined career paths: Clear outlines of potential routes an employee can take within the company, from their current position to their desired role.

  • Required skills and competencies: Identification of the technical skills, professional development achievements, and personal qualities needed at each stage of the career path.

  • Development opportunities: A guide to available training and development resources, such as training courses, workshops, and mentorship programs, that support the employee's growth.

  • Evaluation criteria: Metrics and benchmarks for assessing career progress and readiness for advancement to new roles, including performance in current duties and demonstration of leadership qualities.

Why you must support career progression of your employees?

Supporting your employees' career progression is not just about helping them grow; it's about ensuring the growth and success of your entire business.

When employees see clear career pathways within the organizational structure, it motivates them, boosts loyalty, and attracts high-quality talent to your company. Let's explore how career progression opportunities impact employee engagement, turnover rates, and the ability to attract top talent.

Career progression and employee engagement

When employees understand that their career aspirations are supported and that there are clear career ladders within the company, their engagement levels can skyrocket. Career planning and development plans make them feel valued and understood by their current employer.

Moreover, the prospect of facing new challenges and expanding their job descriptions keeps the day-to-day exciting. Performance reviews that include discussions about career pathways encourage employees to contribute more effectively, knowing that their efforts are recognized and rewarded.

The link between career development and reduced turnover rates

There's a strong correlation between career development support and lower turnover rates. When employees see a particular stage in their job as just a part of a larger career pathway, they're more likely to stay with an employer who invests in their growth opportunities.

This is because career development plans offer a clear vision of future possibilities and how to achieve them, reducing the temptation to seek those opportunities elsewhere. In turn, this can save companies significant amounts of money in recruitment and training, making employee retention a key aspect of organizational success.

Attracting top talent with career progression opportunities

Top talent often looks for more than just a competitive salary; they're searching for places where they can grow, learn, and tackle new challenges. Showcasing a well-defined career progression framework in your job descriptions and during the recruitment process can make your company stand out.

It signals to potential employees that your organizational structure supports their career ladders and that you're invested in their professional development. As a result, you'll attract candidates who are not just looking for a job but are interested in building a career with your company.

Understand diverse employee career aspirations

diverse business people discussing together

Recognizing the diverse career goals within your team is essential for creating an inclusive and supportive workplace. Employees come from varied backgrounds and have unique aspirations, skills, and interests.

Understanding these differences allows you to tailor career development plans that cater to individual needs, ultimately leading to a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Methods for assessing individual career aspirations

Here is a list of the most effective methods to assess individual career aspirations of your employees

Regular one-on-one meetings:

These personal discussions between an employee and their line manager are invaluable. They offer a chance to discuss career aspirations, progress, and any support the employee might need. It's a time for open dialogue about where the employee sees themselves in the future and how they can achieve their goals.

Career development surveys:

Surveys can be an effective way to gather information about employee aspirations on a larger scale. They can help identify common themes and unique interests within your team, providing insight into how you can support each individual's career path.

Performance reviews:

Use performance review sessions not just to evaluate past work, but to discuss future career aspirations. This is an opportunity to align individual goals with the company’s objectives and to plan for future development.

Career pathway workshops:

Organizing workshops that outline potential career pathways within the company can help employees understand their options. These sessions can also include information on what each pathway requires and how to prepare for various roles.

Mentorship programs:

Pairing employees with mentors in their desired career pathway or field can provide them with insight, advice, and a clearer understanding of how to achieve their career goals. Mentors can share their own experiences and guide mentees on what steps to take next.

Skills and interests inventories:

Encouraging employees to complete inventories of their skills and interests can help both the employee and the organization understand where their passions lie. This can inform discussions about career progression and development opportunities.

Development plan discussions:

Integrating discussions about career development plans into regular check-ins can ensure that career aspirations are continuously supported. This also keeps career progression a central part of the employee's journey within the company.

Creating a culture of growth and development

It's really important for a company to be a place where everyone feels like they can grow and learn more every day. When people know they can get better at their jobs and learn new things, they're happier and do better work.

This kind of environment helps everyone aim for their best. Let's explore some of the best strategies for incorporating learning and development into the organizational culture

  • Set learning goals: Start by setting goals that encourage everyone to learn something new regularly. This could be anything from mastering a new tool to improving a soft skill.
  • Offer training courses: Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for training. This could be online courses, workshops, or even inviting experts to talk about interesting topics.
  • Encourage mentorship: Pair up the more experienced people with those who are just starting out or looking to grow in a new area. This way, everyone can learn from each other.
  • Celebrate learning achievements: When someone finishes a course or learns a new skill, celebrate it! This shows that the company values learning and encourages others to take part.
  • Create a learning library: Set up a place where employees can access books, courses, and other resources to learn on their own time. This could be a physical space or an online resource center.
  • Give time for learning: It's important to give people some time during their work schedule to focus on learning. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference.
  • Ask for feedback: Regularly ask everyone what they want to learn and how the company can help. This helps make sure the learning opportunities are useful and interesting.
  • Lead by example: Make sure the leaders in the company are also learning and sharing what they learn. This shows that growth is important at every level.

Developing a career progression framework

Creating a career progression framework is like drawing a map for your team, showing them how they can move from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. It's a way to make sure everyone knows the paths they can take and what they need to do to grow in their careers.

Step 1: Define career paths for various roles

Start by outlining the possible career paths within your organization. This involves identifying the progression from entry-level positions to senior roles. Here is how you can do it:

  • Job mapping: Look at your current organizational structure and identify roles that naturally lead into each other.
  • Role definition: Clearly define each role, including the skills, experience, and responsibilities required.
  • Employee input: Ask employees about their career aspirations to ensure the paths you're creating align with their interests.

Step 2: Identify required skills and competencies

For each step along the career path, determine the skills and competencies needed to move forward. For identifying the required skills consider the following:

  • Skill gap analysis: Compare the skills employees currently have with those needed for the next role in their path.
  • Competency frameworks: Develop or adopt competency frameworks that detail the abilities and knowledge required at each career stage.
  • Feedback from managers: Use insights from line managers to understand which skills are most critical for advancement in their teams.

Step 3: Create development opportunities

Offer training and development options that help employees gain the skills and experiences needed to advance. Trainings can be in the following forms:

  • Training courses: Provide access to online and in-person training courses that cover both technical skills and soft skills.
  • Mentorship programs: Establish mentorship opportunities that allow employees to learn from those already successful in their desired roles.
  • Project assignments: Use challenging projects as a way for employees to develop and demonstrate new skills.

Step 4: Set up performance and progress reviews

Regularly review each employee's progress towards their career goals, offering feedback and guidance. This can include:

  • Regular check-ins: Schedule consistent one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers to discuss progress.
  • Goal setting: Encourage employees to set specific, measurable goals related to their career progression.
  • Performance metrics: Use clear, relevant metrics to assess progress and identify areas for improvement.

Step 5: Communicate the career progression framework

Make sure everyone in the organization understands the career progression framework and how to use it. The career progression framework can be communicated in a number of ways:

  • Information sessions: Hold meetings or workshops to walk employees through the framework.
  • Documentation: Create clear, accessible documents or intranet pages detailing the career paths and progression steps.
  • Q&A sessions: Offer opportunities for employees to ask questions and get clarifications about the framework.

Step 6: Monitor, evaluate, and update the framework

Regularly assess the effectiveness of the career progression framework and make adjustments as needed. This can include:

  • Feedback Collection: Gather feedback from employees and managers on how the framework is working.
  • Success Tracking: Look at data like promotion rates and employee satisfaction to measure the framework's impact.
  • Continuous Improvement: Update the framework based on feedback and changing organizational needs, ensuring it remains relevant and valuable.

Developing a clear career progression framework takes time and effort, but it's an investment in your team's future and your organization's success.

By following these steps, you can create a roadmap that helps employees navigate their career paths, leading to a more motivated, skilled, and committed workforce.

Implementing effective training and development programs

executives working on project in a meeting room with teamed standing at the board while pasting a sticky note

Tailored training programs are crucial for helping employees develop the skills they need for career advancement. By focusing on the specific skills and knowledge each employee needs to grow, you can help them move up their career ladder more effectively.

This not only benefits the individual by enhancing their career satisfaction and growth opportunities but also benefits the organization by creating a more skilled and versatile workforce.

Tailoring training to individual needs

Customizing training programs to meet the unique needs of each employee ensures that everyone gets the support they need to advance in their careers.

Suggestions:

  • Assess individual learning needs: Use performance reviews and one-on-one meetings to identify each employee's skill gaps and learning preferences.
  • Set personalized learning objectives: Work with employees to set specific, measurable learning goals based on their career aspirations and the organization's needs.
  • Create customized learning plans: Develop individual learning plans that include a mix of training methods tailored to each employee's goals and learning style.

Leveraging In-house training resources

Utilizing the resources you already have within your organization can be a cost-effective way to support employee development.

Suggestions:

  • Internal workshops and seminars: Organize regular training sessions led by in-house experts or experienced employees on various topics relevant to your team's needs.
  • Mentorship and peer coaching: Pair less experienced employees with mentors or coaches who can provide one-on-one guidance and support.
  • Cross-training: Encourage employees to learn about different roles within the organization through job shadowing or short-term assignments in other departments.

Utilizing external training resources

External training resources can complement your in-house programs by providing specialized knowledge and fresh perspectives.

Suggestions:

  • Online courses and webinars: Subscribe to online learning platforms that offer courses in a wide range of subjects, from technical skills to leadership development.
  • Conferences and workshops: Provide opportunities for employees to attend external events related to their field, which can be excellent sources of new ideas and networking.
  • Partnerships with educational institutions: Collaborate with colleges, universities, or vocational schools to offer custom training programs or access to advanced courses.

Combining resources for comprehensive development

The most effective training and development programs use a combination of in-house and external resources to provide comprehensive support for employee growth.

Suggestions:

  • Blended learning approaches: Combine online learning, in-person training, and practical experiences to cater to different learning styles and needs.
  • Regular review and feedback: Continuously assess the effectiveness of training programs through feedback from participants and performance metrics. Adjust programs as needed to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
  • Encourage continuous learning: Foster a culture that values ongoing professional development, encouraging employees to take initiative in their learning and career growth.

Enabling cross-functional opportunities

Getting involved in projects or roles that cross different parts of the company can be really good for employees. It lets them see how things work in other areas, learn new skills, and understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. This can make work more interesting and help everyone work better together.

How to facilitate job rotation schemes?

Job rotation is a great way to let employees try out different roles without making a big, permanent change. Here’s how you can make it work:

  • Plan with purpose: Start by figuring out what you want to achieve with job rotation. Do you want to help employees learn new skills, understand different parts of the business, or find where they fit best? Knowing your goals can help you plan better.
  • Talk to employees: Find out who’s interested in trying different roles and what they hope to learn. This helps make sure the experience is good for everyone.
  • Coordinate with managers: You’ll need the help of managers from different departments to make job rotationwork. They can tell you what skills are needed and what tasks the rotating employee can do.
  • Set clear expectations: Everyone should know what’s expected during the job rotation. This includes what the employee will be doing, how long the rotation will last, and how success will be measured.
  • Provide support: Switching roles can be challenging. Make sure employees have the training and support they need to do well in their new roles.
  • Get feedback: After the rotation, talk to the employee and the managers involved. What went well? What could be better? Use this feedback to improve future job rotations.

Job rotation can really help employees grow. It gives them a chance to learn new things, see new perspectives, and find new ways to contribute to the company. Plus, it can make work more exciting and rewarding.

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Conclusion

Supporting your team's career progression isn't just a nice thing to do; it's essential for building a strong, dynamic, and successful business. By understanding and embracing diverse career aspirations, creating clear career paths, offering tailored training, and enabling cross-functional opportunities, you empower your employees to grow and succeed.

This not only boosts their satisfaction and motivation but also enhances your organization's ability to innovate, adapt, and thrive in today's competitive environment. Remember, when your employees grow, your business grows with them.

Let's commit to fostering an environment where every team member can achieve their full potential.

HRM
Topic: Career
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.

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